Marilyn Hagerty: Enjoying the music of Tom Brosseau

During a visit with family in Grand Forks this month, he said he’s just a plain old singer. “I love to sing because it makes me feel good. I encourage everyone to sing a little each day — like Harold Hill in the Music Man.

“Every day a song,” Brosseau said.

Brosseau has recorded and released 14 albums. He thinks the most successful has been “Grass Punks.” That’s an album he recorded with Sean Watkins, released on Crossbill Records five years ago. It includes, “Cradle Your Device,” a winsome song about a lover he wishes would look up from her cell phone now and then.

This week, the first of his Carter Family music is coming out on Crossbill Records. It’s called “In the Shadow of the Hill: Songs from the Carter Family Catalogue, Vol. 1.”


Music by the Carters in 1927 related to songs of hardship, tragedy, love and faith. And Dale Jett, a grandson of A.P. and Sara Carter, says it is as heartfelt today as it was back then,

Moving on

Tom Brosseau’s next singing engagement is with his friend John Reilly in August at Fort Worden in Port Townsend, Washington.

In September and October, he will do a West Coast tour. From Seattle to San Diego, there will be about 25 shows.

No one else writes songs or sounds quite like Tom Brosseau. His voice slips easily into the higher registers. He writes songs about unusual topics – such as what it feels like to be homeless in “Plaid Lined Jacket” from his “Grand Forks” album.

Brosseau considers himself a singer-songwriter with a foundation in the Great American Folk Songbook.

“For that,” he said, “I have to thank most every music teacher I had in Grand Forks. Brad Sherwood, Ken Sherwood, Connie Sherwood, Tom Young – along with teachers at Viking School and Ron Oltmanns at Calvary Lutheran Church.

Rosemary Wharton at Viking School later became a pen pal. He said she had encouraged him to play music, which he did on the guitar.

Work available

Now his work is available through iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp as well as Spotify and Pandora. Those who are vinyl collectors or seeking a CD can contact him at [email protected].

Brosseau and his wife, Elizabeth, make their home in Utah. They have a daughter, Johanna who soon will be 2. Brosseau is the son of Dr. Jim and Jolene Brosseau of Grand Forks.

Tom Brosseau says, “It used to be my voice was high and lonesome. Now, after all these years, it’s just kind of lonesome.

“I’m a plain old singer. I love to sing because it makes me feel good. I encourage everyone to sing a little each day – like Harold Hill in the “Music Man.”

“Every day a song.”

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