Interview by Kate Andrews, ChildFund Staff Writer
Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Seth Glier has worked with ChildFund as a LIVE! artist since 2013. Seth is a multi-instrumentalist who’s performed at major folk festivals, and he also is a national spokesperson for the Autism Awareness Foundation. He recently released his third album, If I Could Change One Thing, and is now on tour in North America. We caught up with him recently to talk about his music and the reason he supports ChildFund’s work.
Q: You’ve been involved with ChildFund for quite a while. How did it happen?
A: I first heard about ChildFund through my management company. One of the main reasons I got into songwriting was because of my relationship with my older brother, Jamie, who is autistic and nonverbal. I feel like I’m in a special position to speak into a microphone each night, and with that comes the responsibility to amplify the voices that could use the decibel level.
Q: Are children’s issues something you think about a lot?
A: Yeah, I think that if you give children a leg up, you’ll change the world. I think giving a child his or her basic needs is something we need to pay more attention to.
Q: What can people expect to see and hear on your tour?
A: I talk a little about ChildFund, and I perform some songs off my new record, If I Could Change One Thing. I’m out there with a trio: a great bass player, an amazing saxophone player and then I play piano and guitar. There’s a lot of variety. It ranges from a several-thousand-people festival set to a 100-people room in a café. I like to try to turn any environment into a living room — one where stories are being told and songs are being shared.
Q: I listened to your new song with Crystal Bowersox, an American Idol finalist, the title cut on your new album. Did you write it with her?
A: I wrote that song with a friend of mine, Liz Longley. It was an up-tempo thing, and I had a drum track worked out and everything. I left my place to get a cup of coffee, and by the time I came back into my apartment, Liz had turned it into a ballad. I don’t think we thought about making it a duet until afterwards. I was on tour with Crystal, opening for her, and we became fast friends, and I went to Malaysia with her in December as part of her side band. She’s been such an amazing champion of my music, and I just can’t say enough great things about her and her talent. So, I asked her to sing on it, and she amazingly said yes.
Q: You won Best Social Action Song at the Independent Music Awards for 2011’s “The Next Right Thing.” What does an accolade like that mean to you?
A: I really came out of this folk world, this folk tradition. Woody Guthrie is a huge influence for me, not just trying to write songs that people will hear but write songs that need to be sung. In the same way that ChildFund is doing work that needs to be done, I’m trying to align myself and my own music with songs and places that need it most.
Q: Are you working on any songs now that are in that social action vein?
A: Yeah, all the time. They take me a long time to write. I’ve been writing a song about fracking for a while, and the song has changed a lot as I’ve continued touring. The more I get out into the country and see what the social struggles are and how the struggles are changing, the more my writing evolves.
Q: How many musical instruments do you play?
A: I fake most of them. [Laughs.] I’m most comfortable with the piano, and I’ve gotten more comfortable with the guitar. It’s a great writing tool. I can fake playing the banjo, harmoniums and different things. I do enjoy playing the accordion. It’s such a physical instrument. It’s like dancing. It’s great.
Q: What have you noticed in your world travels?
A: When we talk about poverty, economic disparity is a world issue. There are people who have so much, and there are people who don’t have remotely enough.