When Mt. Airy artist Chana Rothman learned of Michael Jackson’s death, she stayed up late into the night to write a tribute to the “King of Pop,” quietly singing and strumming her guitar to avoid waking her husband. The resulting song is a poignant reminiscence called “Remember Your Name,” and it’s one of six tracks featured on Rothman’s new album, “Beautiful Land.” Just as Michael Jackson gave Rothman and the rest of the world decades of memorable songs, Rothman says “Beautiful Land” is her act of giving back to the people and places who have inspired her during the past three years.Rothman will hold a release party for the concert at the Point of Destination Cafe on December 10 at 5 and 7 p.m.“If you take, take, take,take, you got to give something back,” sings Rothman on the album’s title track. The Toronto-native has much to draw from during the last three years. Since she and her husband relocated from Park Slope in Brooklyn to Mount Airy two and a half years ago, Rothman has led youngsters in South African townships in songwriting workshops, bonded with Rastafarian coffee farmers and played drums with the descendents of West African runaway slaves known as the Maroons in Jamaica’s Blue Hills. On top of that, she recorded her most recent album while she was pregnant with her firstborn son, who is now 16 months old.
Each of the six songs on the album is recorded with little more than Rothman’s voice, her guitar, and minimal supporting guitar, and hand drum parts. But each track is a different animal than the next, reflecting Rothman’s love for raggae, hip hop and world beat, to name a few genres. But each track is a different animal than the next, reflecting Rothman’s love for raggae, hip hop and world beat, to name a few genres. listeners might hear stripped down echoes of KT Tunstall, Alanis Morissette and Sarah MacLachlan in Rothman’s work.Rothman showcases some jazz chords on the song “Baby Do That Dance,” as she had studied jazz guitar around the time of the recording. “Inadequate” is an upbeat, partly sung and lightly-rapped song that addresses the superficial and materialistic demands forced on women by the entertainment industry. “It’s a manifesto to be in the musical industry and stay true to your core values,” Rothman says. “A lot of people relate to it to find who we are deep inside, but there’s so much surface stuff, how they look on the outside.”Now that Rothman has delivered the album and her firstborn son, she expects her musical life to be slower and simpler. “I feel like the grind of being a musician,” Rothman says. “Sometimes you do stuff you don’t think is that meaningful…playing this venue just so it will enable you to open for that person down the road, because it looks good on a proverbial resume.”Rothman says being a mother has taught her to relate to parents and families more, now that she has her own. Her release party on Saturday night at the Point of Destination Cafe in Mt. Airy offers a show at 5 p.m. for families with children, and a later one at 7. “Simpler is usually better,” Rothman says of her music. “You put a lot of work into things but don’t have to layer in 10 million instruments.”