Annie Bethancourt
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Annie Bethancourt


Band Folk Singer/Songwriter


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The best kept secret in music


"Online Music Review: NorthNorthEast EP"

With a smooth, refined sound that still exudes the feel of an acoustic coffeehouse show, Annie Bethancourt has made giant strides with this release. "Where Darkness Meets Fire" is such a brilliant opening song, with rhythms on the acoustic that are both semi-bluesy and raw. Her voice is angelic, and resonates the deep emotions in her songs. In it, she sings, "I'll try to keep my mouth from kissing your lips/I'll try to keep my hands from reaching for your clenched fist/I'll try to keep my self-control, but I make no promises my dear." Every track here is warm, harmonic and laden with delicate emotions. It's everything that a record should be, and all I wanted was more from this SoCal acoustic goddess. -

"The Garage Sessions CD Review"

This debut solo effort by Annie Bethancourt features 13 tunes rendered, with a few exceptions, on one guitar and one sweet voice. The cover of this CD shows her jamming in front of an auto garage, open-mic style. The Garage Sessions was produced by her father and partially influenced artistically by her mom, this humble production boasts no pretensions.

I’ll get my standard quota of suspicion over first. On several tracks you can hear the influence s of Joni, Alanis and Jewel’s too-many-syllables, rocking firmly on her sleeve. But I don’t wanna talk about that. Why? Because this humbly recorded demo-esque CD has a couple of serious “hits� on it in raw form--the truest test of a great song, which exceed any of my modest criticism.

“My Beloved� is a beautifully written ballad that’s free of influences and truly her. Lyrically speaking, she sings so sweetly a universal message, transmitted in a gorgeous time-transcending melody, that seems to swirl though its pretty changes. And her talent shines through like a ray of hope.

“Lemonade Iced Tea� touches on a classic theme, while the lyrics are the kind that could be spoken either to her lover, or to God. She does a wonderful job here, balancing interesting metaphors with raw images of realism. She offers admissions and ponders the most challenging of all questions. (you’ll have to listen for yourself…) She’s young but is thinking like a matured woman.

“En Cuanto a Mi� testifies that anything sung in Spanish is beautiful; This is by far my favorite track for its inherent beauty alone. It sounds like another hit to me. Although it’s Spanish, I would bet that one could probably sing along with it, anyway. And, once again, Annie is talking about bigger things in simpler terms…sacrifices, waiting, dedication. Siempre. - San Diego Troubadour

"Modest Success: Annie Bethancourt is the most talented girl next door"

Outside in the 61-degree La Mesa cold, people huddle around fire pits, chomping on kettle corn and washing it down with hot cocoa. A large crowd is forming around a makeshift stage where a man talks to an animatronic Christmas tree, coming off as something akin to Blue’s Clues without the stoner appeal.

It could be 34th Street, sans snow and miracles.

But if not miraculous, there certainly was an air of magic inside Cosmos Café, where Annie Bethancourt, after playfully conversing with the audience on the hypocrisy of “Chrismahanukwanzakah,� slides into “We Three Kings.� Everyone seems to know the song—after all, the night is called “Christmas in the Village,� not “Holiday Festival� or something more secular. But they haven’t heard it with Bethancourt’s voice—a lucid mixture of Joni Mitchell and Fiona Apple that goes from hushed whispers, operatic heights, and then coal-walking wails, all within the same song.

It makes me wonder, What is frankincense and why does it sound so appealing?

“I don’t know what it is,� Bethancourt explains after her set. “I think it’s oil—no, it’s incense! That’s it!�

(It’s actually oil.)

This kind of conversation is typical of Bethancourt. She has the look and humor of the girl next door, and talking to her is like chatting with an old friend. And while there certainly is no shortage of, much less demand for, another girl-with-guitar singer-songwriter, she has a rare combination of attributes: authenticity and approachability. Her attraction is not physical or visceral—you just believe what comes out of her mouth.

“I kinda feel like some people always want you to be pretty and perfect and pristine,� she says. “I really learned that vulnerability and fragility in your voice and performance can be really powerful. You can be indier-than-thou, but you still have to have some level of approachability, some level of talent.�

Whether she’ll admit it or not, Bethancourt’s affable nature has a lot to do with her Orange County childhood. Raised in the church, her father was an Episcopalian priest who met her mother when they performed in the Christian folk group, God Unlimited. Bethancourt fondly remembers singing in the choir and performing in some of her dad’s original musicals (“Noah’s Fabulous Floating Zoo was great,� she says). She didn’t pick up a guitar until college, where she discovered artists like Ben Harper and Elliott Smith, and says writing songs was like childbirth: painful, but ultimately rewarding.

“It’d be the last thing I said to people when they asked me what I did. ‘Oh, I’m a waitress, a surf instructor and I’m trying to do music,’� she explains. “It’s cool because now I don’t feel like an imposter. Now, it’s a good day at work.�

Her debut recording, The NorthNorthEast EP, blended standard singer-songwriter fare (mortal and spiritual love, losing both, etc.) with wit and wisdom. She says that it all came home for her, though, when she was nominated for “Best Local Recording� at the 2005 San Diego Music Awards. She didn’t win, but to hear her tell it, she did.

“I always felt like I was the dorky kid in school that no one would sit with,� she says. “And when I got the nomination, I was the prom queen.�

As the people shuffle out of Cosmos Café and into the cold night, hardly anyone passes without approaching her. An adolescent skate punk buys a CD and a pin from her and as he walks off, Bethancourt delights at the fact that he attaches the pin to his hat.

“Oh, that is so awesome. Skater boys love me!� - San Diego CityBeat


The Garage Sessions (2002)
NorthNorthEast EP (2005)
both have online and independent radio airplay


Feeling a bit camera shy


“Annie Bethancourt puts on a show that explains the difference between raw talent and deft technique. Or, rather, she inhabits both.”
- Troy Johnson, Music Editor San Diego CityBeat

The daughter of folk musicians, Annie Bethancourt honed her skills at a young age: recording little ditties into hand-held tape recorders, organizing impromptu neighborhood marching bands, humming on kazoos, and playing the piano with her toothbrush. After picking up the guitar her freshman year of college, Annie discovered her love of turning stories, sorrows, and hope into song. She has since released a full-length CD (2002’s “The Garage Sessions”), been featured in local and nation-wide independent music publications, toured Europe and the East Coast, lived-played-surfed in Spain and Costa Rica, and in May of 2006 partnered with indie label foe records to release the “NorthNorthEast” EP: a six song recording with an eclectic mix of textured arrangements, murmured verses, cacophonic crescendos, crashing cymbals, tinkling pianos, eerie instrumentation, and soothing sounds.

Fragile and timid one moment, thunderous and triumphant the next, Annie's voice and songs reflect the truth of emotions ranging from doubt to love to fear to joy, with an under-current of hope that every listening heart wants to hear.