Singing from the heart

Left photo by Christine Stephenson/The Herald: Evie Lasher is a very sentimental person, she says. On her right is her grandpa's guitar that will be given to her when she's older, and on her left is her dad's college guitar that was used at many campfire singing sessions when she was little. "I won't let him get rid of it," she said. Right photo courtesy of Amy Lasher: Evie learned her first song, "Wagon Wheel" by Old Crow Medicine Show, when she was 3 years old. Her dad, Faron, mainly plays the bass guitar but has also played an acoustic one around the house just about every day since Evie was born.

By CHRISTINE STEPHENSON
cstephenson@dcherald.com

JASPER — The noise of the crowd grew as Evie Lasher paced around backstage at Lincoln Amphitheatre.

In 2019, after some family friends got her the opportunity to open for Hard Day's Night, a popular Beatles tribute band, she had spent every night for weeks practicing in the garage of her Jasper home with her parents, Faron and Amy.

Now, with only a few minutes before she’d perform in front of 1,500 people, Evie was focused, not even acknowledging her dad who would be playing guitar by her side. The nerves began to bubble up.

Although Evie had only just turned 13, her parents never doubted that she was talented enough to perform in front of anyone.

Still, it was natural to worry — she’d never sang in front of more than a couple hundred people, and she didn’t move around enough on “stage” during their garage practice sessions, they thought.

"Is she really ready for this?" Faron thought to himself.

By the time the father and daughter walked on stage, Evie had transformed into a different, nearly unrecognizable person  Evie Mae, as she went by on stage.

She called out to the crowd, seeming completely at ease.

Christine Stephenson/The Herald
When Evie was about 5 or 6 years old, her parents got her a board to write down her music goals. Her last goal, which was to professionally record her own music, was accomplished in 2020, so she had to make a new one: get signed by a record label.

Evie has always felt comfortable being center stage, whether it be giving a presentation in class or singing at family campfires. But this was unlike anything she’d experienced before.

When she finished her set, Evie walked backstage with her dad and immediately jumped into his arms. “One more song! One more song!” the crowd chanted from the other side. She couldn’t stop crying.

“This is what I want to do,” she told her parents.

***

At 14, Evie’s life has been filled with music for as long as she can remember.

She learned her first song, “Wagon Wheel” by Old Crow Medicine Show, when she was 3 after her dad played it on his guitar around the house so much. Both her grandpa and dad played the guitar, and her dad has played bass in a band with his friends since before she was born.

One of the first songs she learned to perform with her own personal twist was “House of the Rising Sun” by The Animals because it’s her grandma’s favorite song.

Singing at campfires with family and friends as a kid sparked her love for older artists such as Johnny and June Carter Cash, Patsy Cline and Emmylou Harris.

One day, when she was 10, Evie asked her dad if they could perform Christmas songs for nursing homes around the area. They traveled to three homes in four days, and when Evie sang for the residents, especially older songs that they recognized, their faces lit up.

“I knew that this is what I wanted to do because it brought them joy,” she said.

All this time, Evie was developing her love for performing. She started singing at local restaurants, such as the Old School Café and Bakery in Huntingburg, and planned to perform at local festivals this past summer before they were canceled due to COVID-19.

Yet she had never actually auditioned for anything before. And if she really wanted to become a musician someday, her parents thought, she’d have to learn to handle rejection.

Photo courtesy of Amy Lasher
Evie performs with her dad, Faron, at Lincoln Amphitheatre in Lincoln City in summer 2020. She's performed there twice now.

Faron suggested she try out for the Applause Rising Talent Showcase, or ARTS International, which would allow her to show her singing skills to agents. If nothing else, he thought, it would be a good parenting moment if Evie wasn’t accepted by anyone. So they flew down to Orlando and gave it a shot.

A month or so later, agents from a music development company emailed the family expressing interest in Evie.

She started doing weekly Skype sessions with different songwriters and eventually co-wrote three songs of her own using her life experiences. She traveled to Nashville, Tennessee, and professionally recorded the songs, something that had always been a dream of hers.

Her first single, called "Outta Line," will be released onto streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music on Feb. 19.

In the past year, Evie has crossed off a lot of life goals, mainly recording her own songs. Her next goal is to get a record deal.

Evie has always been a country girl, so she tries to let that show through her music. She sings with a twang despite being classically trained, and she only writes lyrics that really mean something to her — something only a few modern country artists do, she said.

“Country today I think is just leaning way more towards pop,” she said. “I like it, but it's not my kind of thing, because I just love the traditional country sound.”

Deep down, though, those concrete accomplishments won’t ever be as important to Evie as her two real goals: To bring back that “old country sound” and to make people feel something through her music.

“Like if they're going through a rough time, then they can listen to my music,” she said. “I just want to be that free space for people because growing up, everyone kind of has that one person that they always listen to no matter what.

“I want to be that person for someone.”

***

Although her list of accomplishments may say otherwise, Evie says she’s just a normal teenager.

Photo courtesy of Amy Lasher
Evie looks out over Broadway in Nashville while on a trip to record her music in summer 2020.

She loves camping, fishing and baking, and she plays softball and acts in her school’s play. She likes to stay busy, and she and her dad play the guitar and sing together every night for fun.

When she thinks about her childhood, she remembers catching crawdads in the creek with her grandma and riding four wheelers with her grandpa at their farm. She’s going to own that farm one day, she tells her parents.

She wants to make it big as a singer, but she knows that might not happen. And that’s OK.

Like many teenagers, she changes her mind every few weeks on what she wants to do when she grows up if her dream doesn’t pan out. She’s told her parents she wants to be a veterinarian, or pediatric surgeon, or a member of the SWAT team, or maybe just raise animals on the farm.

“Buying back the farm is one of my biggest goals because family means a lot to me,” she said.

Evie would likely never make it as far as she has without the support of her family. Beyond the support that any good parents would give their daughter, Evie’s parents have acted as her guitarists, co-songwriters, managers and biggest fans.

Amy has been known to call Faron or wake Evie while she’s driving just to tell them about a potential song title, and any casual family dinner can turn into a full-blown musical brainstorming session.

“It’s all about what we all love, which is music,” Amy said. “That's what we live and breathe here in our household.”

Faron tells his daughter that it’s important to follow her dreams but to also know that it’s OK to stop pursuing them one day or to find different dreams, too.

Evie has a long way to go in her music career and is ahead of the game compared to most people her age who want to break into the industry. But even if she becomes a household name one day, she doesn’t want to make music her entire life. She has other things she wants to do and be.

“What have we always told you, that above all else, we want you to be when you grow up?” Faron asks.

“A good person,” Evie says, “over everything.”




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