Zoe Butler now lives in Tennessee, but she’s an Aquidneck Islander down to her roots.
The 24-year-old singer, songwriter and musician grew up in Portsmouth, and her new single “Old New England Town by the Sea” is a melancholy folk tune about giving up everything to return to a simple seaside life in Newport.
Speaking from Nashville, where she has worked as a public school teacher for two years, Butler spoke about the musical influences in her life, her connections to Newport and her plans for the future now that she has launched her music career.
She said her dad is a natural musician who plays a ton of instruments and her mom, Dr. Debra Curtis, writes and teaches anthropology at Salve Regina University. Butler said her parents always signed her up for music lessons and she had been playing instruments, writing songs and telling stories since she was a child.
After graduating from Brown University in 2020, Butler moved to Nashville to pursue music and teach ninth grade math at a public high school. She said it was difficult to balance the demands of the classroom and her development as a musician, and pointed out that the COVID pandemic was a strange time to be in a city with enormous culture and history from the live music.
Listen to live music:Here’s where you can find free outdoor concerts all summer long in Newport
She still managed to play “a bunch of solo shows and writers’ tours”, and said she was influenced by “the on-stage camaraderie of the women who had moved to Nashville to do alternative music. and independent”. She said she fits in more with the city’s alternative scene than her country heritage, and her own style is folk and Americana.
In addition to writing his own lyrics and singing, Butler plays piano, guitar and ukulele. She explained as she hired studio musicians to back her vocals on most tracks, “that song on Newport is the only song on the EP with just me and my guitar. I wanted it to feel under -produced and stripped.
Performing in Nashville:Newport’s Daisy Briggs moved to Nashville to make it big. His first song is about to drop.
“Old New England Town by the Sea”
“Old New England Town by the Sea” expresses both a hope for true love and an appreciation for the beauty of a simple New England life. It’s available for free now on Soundcloud and will be released on major streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music on June 29.
Depending on whether Butler lands a place at the Newport Folk Festival this summer, fans could also hear it live.
Jazz Festival 2022 headliners:Find out who’s headlining this year’s Newport Jazz Festival
If she doesn’t hear from the Folk Festival, Butler will travel to France to visit her twin sister, who runs a clothing business for disabled women.
She will continue to write stories and songs and perform her music in Paris, and in the fall she might head west to Los Angeles. She plans to release a six-song EP titled June later this year.