Annie Haslam’s Struggle To Write In Thatcher’s Place
Renaissance singer Annie Haslam feared she’d never be able to write lyrics for the band’s music following the death of Betty Thatcher.
The poet passed away last August from cancer after a long health battle, leaving Haslam with the task of providing words instead.
Haslam tells DPRP: “This is the second time I’ve written an album with Michael Dunform. At the beginning I thought, ‘I hope I can do this,’ because I would never want to step into Betty’s shoes.
“She was a poet – a brilliant one, and with many years of experience. I’d never write like Betty because I’m not Betty. I had quite a lot to live up to.”
But she was able to draw on her experience as a painter to find a way to write. “I can sit in front of a computer and listen to the music, and it’s like sitting in front of an easel,” she explains. “When I paint I feel like it’s channelled – it just pours through like water and I never really know what’s coming.
“With the songs for this album, they just came through as if I was painting. It doesn’t make sense, really, but it works, and I’m incredibly proud of the works I’ve created.”
Haslam only began painting ten years ago, after many years of ignoring the possibility of exploring the art. Her latest work adorns the cover of Renaissance album Grandine il Vento – which means Hail the Wind – due out early next year.
She explains: “I had quite a strange experience: I heard a voice in my head that said, ‘It’s time to start painting now!’
“I didn’t paint for three months because I wasn’t sure what to do. I bought some books on painting but I only read one page. One day I woke up and thought, ‘This is the day.’ I felt like someone was guiding me.”
But she finds that writing music and creating visual art can’t be done in tandem. “It’s difficult for me to do both. I’ve got four or five days off now, but whether I’ll be able to paint I’m not sure, because I’m so full of the music.”