Susan Werner has earned her connection to the farm support movement honestly, growing up in Iowa as part of a generations-deep farm family. Her new collection, ‘Hayseed,’ is made up of songs about the intrinsic bond between the land, those who grow our food, and the world that benefits from their sweat and toil. Susan stopped by the Folk Alley studios for a conversation with Matt Watroba centered on the very basic, and ultimately complicated, topic of food and agriculture. Hear the discussion and see video performances.
At age five, Werner made her debut, playing guitar and singing at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Manchester, Iowa; she learned both piano and guitar by ear. After earning a degree in voice from the University of Iowa, she attended Temple University in Philadelphia, performing in numerous recitals and operas while completing her graduate studies. On occasion Werner, who calls Chicago home now, still closes any one of the 125 club dates she plays annually throughout the US and Canada with “Un Bel Di” from Madame Butterfly or “Habanera” from Carmen, but ultimately, she opted to forgo a career as an opera singer, dedicating herself to songwriting instead, building a reputation at jazz clubs, coffeehouses, and folk festivals along the Eastern Seaboard.