The Night Eagle Cafe
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200 State Street Binghamton, NY (607) 217-7334

Priscilla Herdman

Priscilla Herdman
For singer Priscilla Herdman, nighttime holds a particular kind of comfort. While driving home from a gig in the wee hours of the morning she'll pause at the top of Winchell Mountain near her home in Dutchess County, New York, open the moon roof, and look at the sky's expanse. The stark contrast of the stars against the blackened sky or even the soft weight of low-lying clouds are all markers for safety and home. It's no wonder, then, that her best selling album is "Stardreamer: Nightsongs and Lullabies."

Herdman sang lullabies to her only child, Suzanna, and collected them in the album. Parents were grateful for the opportunity to have Priscilla's "clear, mountain stream" voice nearby, as they passed many a sleepless night with their small children in rocking chairs. Sales have totaled more than 90,000 copies since 1988, and the album continues to sell about 7,000 each year. Multiple awards, hearty endorsements from parenting groups and critical acclaim all put Herdman on the map. Another children's album, "Daydreamer," followed, partial proceeds of which go to UNICEF.

Children's music isn't the only musical genre for Herdman; in fact, it's not even her primary focus. She is a remarkably prolific singer who has 4 albums in development, and 11 already released. She sings both solo and in groups, most notably with Cindy Mangsen and Anne Hills in the annual "Voices of Winter" tour. ("Actually, we drive for a living," says Mangsen. "And we sing when we stop," adds Herdman.)

There are two special reasons that Herdman has enjoyed remarkable longevity in the acoustic music scene: a voice that is a beacon in a field of even exceptionally talented folksingers, and a gift for choosing songs to sing. "I'm an interpreter, not a songwriter," says Herdman. And that's more challenging than you might think. Singer-songwriters have emerged as a force to be reckoned with by the music industry, and that has left some singers feeling underappreciated. "There's a lot of pressure today to be a hotshot guitarist and to write--to be one of the guys."

Herdman's audiences haven't missed the obvious: every song performed by Herdman is chosen with the care with which a child is named or a permanent garden is planted. She doesn't sing because the song was written; she sings because it is beautiful. Herdman has listened to thousands of songs in her lifetime, always with an ear for the song that lasts. "When I hear a song, it has to hit me on an emotional level. I have to say to myself, 'I want to hear that song again.'"

In her singing, the songs themselves take on a second life. The Chicago Sun Times writes, "Herdman has a remarkable voice: clear, shiny, sparkling...she is no mere craftsman, but a singer who finds the artistic heart of each tune." Rolling Stone describes her "...excellent taste in material and an elegant, pitch-perfect voice." "At the center of her charms is that voice...her voice is miraculously pure and effortlessly beautiful, a voice that immediately draws people in and wins them over," adds critic Scott Alarik for The Boston Globe.