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Sharing Isn't 'Optional' In Nora Jane Struthers' Latest Album, 'Champion'


Nora Jane Struthers has made a pretty big splash with her latest album. Champion earned aglowing review from rock critic Ken Tucker on Fresh Air recently, and the record got its streaming debut through the NPR website.

It’s the follow-up to her 2015 album, Wake, with her band, The Party.

While Wake shared her feelings about a blossoming relationship, Champion continues the journey, featuring some very personal and very tuneful songs square in the realm of Americana.

"The record is about seeing my friends and their sort of path to motherhood, and through motherhood, and seeing how there are challenges along the way for every single person and they just sort of present at different times - and wanting to support them through that," Struthers explains.

Her own challenges of trying to start a family are addressed in the album. Struthers says that not talking about what inspired so much of Champion "wasn't really optional."

"I think what artists are supposed to do is present their most authentic selves," she adds. "There was really no way for me to do that without acknowledging that this was something that I was going through, working through, and struggling with."

Credit Mitch Teich
Nora Jane Struthers plays along with her husband, musician and songwriter Joe Overton, in the Lake Effect performance studio.

Struthers admits she didn't clue the whole band in on the background of a lot of the songs until after the record was made. "Just getting to spend time with such quality human beings and feel like we've gotten to watch each other grow musically and as people and supporting each other in our moments of crisis...that's the beauty of the whole thing," she says.

For Struthers, Champion is all about acknowledging and being thankful of your support system.

"To really distill it, believing in yourself or in your own abilities or in your dream is really tough. I think we all need people to sort of prop us up and help us keep going when we feel like maybe we should stop."

Struthers hopes her album can help listeners who are going through similar struggles in their own lives. "I think that's what we all want is for people to look at our art and see their own lives in it and draw strength or something useful from it - that's the point."

Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line perform, "Each Season."

Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line perform, "Champion."

Nora Jane Struthers and The Party Line perform, "Wonderful Home."

Audrey Nowakowski is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.