As Daisy May, she usually performs with her partner Seth Bernard, but she is also her own woman and performs as a solo act with three recordings by herself to show for it.
On her first three CDs, she called herself Daisy May, and with her youth, charm and cowgirl twang, it fit her well. But as she continues to grow through her music and get closer to her audience, the Daisy part is beginning to fade.
It was a nickname given to me by some friends that kind of stuck, Erlewine says, prior to beginning a week of recording with a band assembled for her latest solo project. But I like people to call me by my real name.
But she is quick to add that, I am definitely not offended if people call me Daisy May. Its on my album covers and I kind of created it.
Erlewines last record, Mother Moon, features a couple of upbeat songs, such as the clever Big Mama Brown, which is about a family of fish determined not to be someones dinner. But the CD mostly offers introspective pieces, trying to sort things out emotionally, while honestly confronting doubts and fears.
I just feel it is always a relief with music or just friendship when somebody says the truth in what they are going through, Erlewine says. You know, all of us have hard times in our lives. We go by, week by week and go through things that are challenging. It is just a part of reality.
Erlewine felt she was taking a risk getting too personal, but she earned many new fans with Mother Moon, and it is the kind of record that feels richer after repeated listenings.
I am humbled and honored that it has been embraced that way. And really relieved, because that is what my hope was, that in whatever way it could possibly be helpful. Thats the best thing, when the music is offering something other than just being music. It is not something I can try to do, but it is something I am always hoping will happen.
Erlewine is from Big Rapids and began her unique journey early on. She remembers coming home from kindergarten and crying every day. Her mom gave her the choice to be home-schooled if she wanted, which she jumped at, but wistfully adds, Maybe if I made it through kindergarten, I would have stayed in school.
She has fond memories of her home schooling, where she also learned how to work with wood and make clothes. She was 11 when she began to write songs. She took violin lessons and also went to the local school for some classes and to be a part of the choir.
The last few years have been something of a whirlwind for Erlewine. After traveling around the country in her teens, hitch-hiking with friends and even occasionally hopping trains, Erlewine saw Seth Bernard at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in 2003 and had a If he can do it, I can do it moment that made pursuing a career in music seem believable.
Seth and Erlewine got to know each other and have been playing together for almost five years now. They are busy playing mostly in Michigan, with trips to the east coast and Portland about once a year. They already have one great recording together, Seth Bernard and Daisy May, which they recorded at the Calumet Theatre, north of Houghton in the Upper Peninsula. It includes Erlewines song of hope, Shine On, that she and Seth performed on Garrison Keillors A Prairie Home Companion in April 2007. Seth and May also completed a new duo recording that will be available this winter.
Erlewine now lives near Lake City with Seth at Earthwork Farm, which was bought by Seths dad, Bob, in the 70s. They grow food and raise Scottish Highland cows on the farm. But with two music festivals held there -- the Family Festival in July and the Harvest Festival in September -- and the long list of young Michigan musicians that are a part of Earthwork Music, their main crops currently are new recordings, performances and, a favorite topic of Erlewines, creating community.
BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER
The ideals in the music industry are not the ideals of what I want to do with my music, Erlewine says. I really want to have a life as a musician based around interacting with my community. My job is to be a part of the community and aid that with my heart. For me, one of the most amazing things about music is the way it brings people together.
On December 12, 13, and 14, Erlewine, Seth and their Earthwork Music friends will bring people together again for a Water Festival at the Traverse City Opera House, which is in its third year. Earlier, the Water Festival events were held in Grand Rapids and Mackinaw City. It will be a weekend of music, speakers and workshops dedicated to water education, conservation and the preservation of the Great Lakes.
You can hear Erlewine sing at her website: earthworkmusic.com/daisyMay/
Erlewine will also be at Roots on the River with several other Earthwork Musicians, at Manistees Ramsdell Theatre on November 8, 7 p.m.
Erlewines CDs are available in Traverse City at Higher Grounds and Unity Fair Trade Marketplace. They can be ordered online at: Foxonahill.com or downloaded at I-Tunes where every listeners review has, so far, given her a 5 out of 5 stars rating.