When you listen to or watch a solo artist, do you ever wonder about his or her journey? All the emotion, all the joy and pain in the music comes back to this one person. So, what makes someone sing?
For local singer Anna Lombard, the answer is “release.” She recorded Head Full of Bells, her first solo album, while she picked up extra waitressing shifts while raising a daughter with her husband. To make it, she reunited with childhood friend, musician, and songwriter Adam Agati. Lush, rich and clear, her voice reminds you of Bonnie Raitt. Your heart feels warm and secure listening to Lombard; it’s like a like a giant, long hug from your grandmother.
While recording the album was a journey in itself, Lombard’s musical path began when she was a child. A native of South Portland and Cape Elizabeth, she was two years old when her parents separated. She doesn’t remember being in the same house with the two of them at the same time, but she does remember music. Her dad played in rock bands. Her grandfather played piano and sang. Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, and the Beatles were always on the turntable, and Lombard absorbed the quality blues, soul, and melodic pop.
At four years old, Lombard’s talent became apparent when sang as an angel in her church Christmas show. Her mother quickly signed her up for vocal lessons, and soon she was belting out show tunes and even Italian arias. In school, she was a self-confessed “band geek,” playing the French horn, baritone tuba, and trumpet. Yet Lombard always felt more comfortable with blues and soul music. So her direction set to head more towards a seat on a porch in the South rather than a seat the symphony .
In 2007, Lombard teamed up with Dan Connor for what would be come the Portland roots band Gypsy Tailwind. She gained professional experience, making two solid records, but she didn’t want to be half of a vocal duo or be limited to country and folk music. So in 2012, Lombard and four members of Gypsy Tailwind left to start her next project, Anna and the Diggs. That was another learning process for Lombard. “Those guys were great musicians. We were really close and I learned a lot with both bands, but I mostly learned that I wanted to be the frontwoman. They helped me build my confidence.”
With each new project, Lombard is getting closer to what she wants in music. She recognizes that she’s not there yet, but you can hear her strength growing in each new song she records. “As I mature as a person,” she says, “I’m learning to take a step back and enjoy the journey of getting to a place I want to go to musically.”
Although she may still be on the path to get where she wants to be, it’s clear to anyone who’s listened to her voice—even a brief minute—that Anna Lombard has already arrived.