This North Fork local is finally living her dream.
Ann Burger, who records under the name Ann Paul, has recorded two CDs, a blend of pop, folk, and rock, and is working on her third.
Ms. Burger, born in Greenport and a graduate of Mattituck High School, was drawn to the guitar at an early age and took classical lessons, but lost touch with making music for a long time.
“I got my first guitar up in Nassau Point with my neighbor; that’s really what got me into it,” she said. “Then I performed a couple of times in Southampton. I ended up just giving it up, and getting away from it and having a family,” she said.
As her children got older, though, she jumped back into guitar playing.
“I started writing songs. I wrote for 15, 20 years, just in my living room, in front of an audience of one, which was my dog,” she said. “And I really didn’t perform that much. I really had a problem with performance anxiety, but I just loved music. I didn’t quite know where I was going to fit in, because I’m not a teacher. I have no patience for teaching. And I wasn’t a performer, so I just kept writing and writing.”
In January 2013, during at a performance at Harbes Farm, a new path opened up for Ms. Burger, with a little help from her husband, Eugene.
“My husband wanted to go to a performance at Harbes Farm, and I told him I would go but I wouldn’t perform. And he said, ‘Don’t worry, no one in this town wants you to perform.’ So I went there, and John Divello, a local musician, was playing with Chris Tedesco. I’m sitting in the audience, and Chris Tedesco tells me to come up and play. The pressure — of going up there and performance anxiety. I just sat there and I really just wanted to bolt out the door. But I told myself no. I told him I only play my own songs. So we played five of my own songs.”
After her performance, Mr. Tedesco helped her find a studio in Brooklyn and a group of musicians to record her music. There, Ms. Burger was introduced to Andrew Carillo and asked him to come on as her producer.
By 2015, she’d released her first album, “Get Me By.” Her second, “Stay,” came out in December 2017 and features a cast of veteran musicians, including keyboardist Andy Burton, currently touring with John Mayer; bassist Richard Hammond, who performs with the hit Broadway show “Hamilton”; and Aaron Comess, drummer for the ’90s band Spin Doctors.
Now, with two albums under her belt, Ms. Burger continues to write and record songs upstairs at her home in Cutchogue, overlooking the water, and is moving right along with her music career.
“Something will just spark it off,” she said when asked what inspires her music. “I just come up here, and it’s just a blank slate. I’ll just start playing, and I just write. I think experience, if something happens to me. I just start hearing something in my head.”
Performance anxiety was a huge roadblock for Ms. Burger, but with practice she’s grown more confident in her performing.
“I had a lot of anxiety even singing in the studio,” she said. “But after just doing it, I was able to overcome it. Andrew gave me some really good advice: Know what you’re going to do. Which is contrary to writing a song. Like when I write a song, it really is like a blank slate. It’s a blank page. You just write, and whatever comes out, comes out. You just throw everything out there. When I started throwing everything out, that’s when I started writing songs. When I just let go of everything.”
After she completes her third album, Ms. Burger plans to continue writing music.
“It was a dream come true to start my music career later on in my life,” she said. “It really was. All those years I was writing and writing, not knowing where it would go, what I would do. After years and years, finally realizing your dream.”
Her music is available for licensing through SONY/THE ORCHARD and can be found on iTunes, Apple Music and Spotify.
Photo caption: Ann Paul is working on her third album. (Erika Peters photo)