Clare Burson played her album and performance piece, Silver and Ash, for a crowd of about 100 people at the Cecile Goldman Theater at the DC JCC. Silver and Ash is a song cycle focusing on Burson’s maternal grandmother’s escape from Germany on November 9, 1938 and her eventual arrival with her brother in Memphis, Tennessee.
Burson performed the album in its entirety, as well as an encore song that had not made it onto the original release and a cover. In between numbers, Burson provided the audience with details into the stories behind each song, as well as explaining what drew her to this particular project. She explained that, as a child, she knew very little of her maternal grandmother’s childhood. As a means of connecting with her history and her great-grandparents and their lives, Clare Burson traveled to Germany at the age of nineteen. It was while in Germany that she composed the songs that would become Silver and Ash.
Burson also told the audience a bit about the possessions that her grandmother had taken with her, including a bracelet from her first boyfriend referenced in the first track of the Album, The Only Way. She also spoke on the importance of memory and the reclaiming of memory. She took several questions from the audience related to her grandmother’s story and noted that her mother, while helping her grandmother move, discovered an incredible correspondence between Clare’s grandmother and great-grandmother that answered many of Clare’s questions about her great-grandparents’ lives and experiences.
The performance was fantastic. The details Burson provided throughout helped me appreciate each song in a deeper way than I had just listening to the album.
For GTJ’s interview with Clare Burson, click here.