It’s been a wild couple of years for singer-songwriter Tristan Prettyman. After undergoing surgery on her vocal cords, she got engaged to boyfriend Jason Mraz — only to deal with the heartbreak of the relationship ending soon after.
She took some time off from singing after that and re-evaluated what she wanted to do with her life — and if singing was still part of that.
Soon though, she found she couldn’t escape the music and instead found therapy and peace in it.
Prettyman is featured on the widely popular Cities 97 Sampler, Vol. 24 — which hits Target stores Thursday morning. She’ll also be performing at the Cities 97 Sampler Release Party Wednesday at First Avenue but before she takes the stage, we chatted with the singer about dealing with a broken heart, picking up the pieces and moving on.
You’ve had quite the journey to this point, including surgery on your vocal cords, ending an engagement and questioning your musical aspirations. What got you through that tough time?
I am not even sure what got me through. I just kept going. I didn’t really know what direction to turn. And I think after a while, I just found all the stuff that was going “wrong” comical, and I sort of laughed and thought to myself, ‘OK, there has got to be a reason for all of this.’ I naturally found myself coming back to music, and it was no longer coming from a forced place or a guilty place, it was genuine. And when the creative process really happens genuinely, you cannot ignore it. I have always felt like music kinda chose me, and once again it chose me, and its never felt more right.
What was behind your decision to put a lot of that experience in your album ‘Cedar and Gold?’
There was no decision. I didn’t have a choice. The songs came out truly honest, I couldn’t ignore that. The process felt very cleansing.
What was it like to finish such an emotional and raw album?
Liberating, free and light.
Now that you’ve seen the record see success, how do you feel about the entire process, up until now?
I am happy that I followed my heart, my instinct, my gut. I never second guessed any of it. I’m also proud that I’ve been able to remain just as open and honest in the way I talk about the album. It’s been healing for me and now I get to watch it heal others.
Why ‘Cedar and Gold?’ Where does that name come from?
Ive always loved alchemy — the process of turning lead into gold. I love taking crappy situations and turning them into something positive. Rise above the situation to see what can be learned, rather than throwing a pity party has always been my motto. Then there is also my house, which has been in our family since the 60s. It’s where my mom was pregnant with me. I just remodeled it with my dad and I wrote a lot of the these songs in the living room, where the walls and ceiling are cedar. So I like to say the cedar held the space for me to spin my misfortunes into gold: The record.
What has this experience taught you about yourself – about song writing?
It’s taught me that I am not perfect. That I can’t change people. You have to love people for who they are and what they stand for, and if you don’t like it, you have to know when to leave. It’s taught me to be more aware of what I want and how I want to be treated. I thought my life was gonna go one way, and when it fell apart, I was devastated. But looking back, I realized I would have been settling. Settling for someone who didn’t really know how to love me the way I felt like I deserved to be loved, because they were still trying to figure out how to love themselves. That’s something you can’t change. Everyone has to figure that one out on their own.
And in regards to songwriting, it’s taught me to be a lot more open. I love writing from a specific place, about something that I experienced or felt, but I feel like in a way, through that experience, with everything under a microscope like it was with ‘Cedar and Gold’ — it’s made me realize that I don’t have to take it all so serious. I can walk into a room and just write, and not be so attached. In a way, this album set me free to be more in the flow in the moment and happy. So I hope the next record is a happy one.
The single “My Oh My” is featured on the Cities 97 Sampler – and has been a favorite for many music lovers around the Twin Cities. What’s behind the lyrics?
“My Oh My” is basically written about trying to quit a love, that seems to have cast a spell on you. You can’t walk away, you don’t know how to say goodbye. You’re stuck. It’s up and down. It’s bad, it’s good. It’s volatile and it will always be that way. And you can’t say goodbye, and then you kinda realize you have the choice to walk away … and then it just becomes about working up the strength enough to call it a day.
What’s it like to be part of the Cities Sampler?
It’s awesome! I love Cities 97 and I love the Twin Cities! We’ve always had a great following there, and lovely fans. And plus I love Brian Oake (of Cities 97), like he was family.
What are you looking forward to in performing for the Sampler Party at First Avenue?
I’m pretty excited to see my girl Erin McCarley. And Phillip Phillips — we’ve done a couple radio shows with him in the past month and he’s great. And I love First Ave. It’s been a minute since I’ve played that room. It will be great to get back!
What’s next for you – where do you hope to go from here?
I actually get to go home for about a week or two. I haven’t really been home in about four months. And then I have a whole bunch of Christmas shows in December and then home for the holidays!
Tristan Prettyman will perform at the Cities 97 Sampler Vol. 24 Release Party at 6:30 p.m. at First Avenue. You can also catch her track on the Cities 97 Sampler, which goes on sale at 8 a.m. on Thursday at area Target stores. All proceeds of the Sampler go to local charities.