BettySoo

BettySoo

 Austin, Texas, USA
BandFolkAmericana

BettySoo's music is dynamic, intimate and personal, compared to Alison Krauss & Patty Griffin. Her show is funny & engaging. Kerrville, Big Top Chautauqua, Wildflower, Sisters & Mountain Stage Songwriting Winner. Official fest appearances include SXSW, Folk Alliance, Kerrville, Vancouver Island, etc

Biography

Not much about BettySoo isn’t surprising. People are surprised just to see her take the stage. Plain-faced, petite (she’s five foot exactly), and freckly, people don’t have any idea what to expect – they certainly don’t expect such a large voice and moving songs. “I guess Asian-American singer-songwriters aren’t all that common,” she comments, “at least, not in Texas.” In fact, she regularly gets greeted after her shows with praise comparing her music and vocals to everyone from Ruthie Foster to Sheryl Crow to Alison Krauss.

Her newest release, Lie To Me, is a duo collaboration with Canadian Dobro master Doug Cox. BettySoo and Doug Cox might seem an unlikely pair. One hails from the cadre of songwriters living in Austin, Texas, the other from the paradisiacal reaches of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The two musicians met while teaching at Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp, where they discovered a shared fondness for good songs.

Living 2,500 miles apart (a couple airplane flights plus a long ferry ride) and working in different musical worlds aren’t circumstances that make for convenient collaboration. But their friendship and musical respect were immediate, as they found countless familiar threads in the people and music they admired. Some songs they shared were penned by writers celebrated around the world, others were lesser-known, and still others were written by dear friends. BettySoo and Doug decided to create a show built around the stories and work of their mostly-unsung heroes.

Raised in Texas, BettySoo grew up hearing the names and music of certain Texas icons – characters like Doug Sahm, who lived on Vancouver Island for two years in the 1980's after visiting his friend Doug Cox. It was during Sahm’s time on the Island that he penned “Louis Riel” and fashioned the idea of returning to Texas to form the Texas Tornados. Cox was road manager for the first tour leading to the formation of the now legendary band. “The touring and recording BettySoo and I do is based on all the stories and songs we have each collected over years of being surrounded by great characters.” says Cox.

With Heat Sin Water Skin, BettySoo added some welcome edge and grit to the heartbreaker ballads and bell-pure vocals she’s come to be known for. Teamed with seasoned producer Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier, Slaid Cleaves), BettySoo made a record worth sitting up and paying attention to. Her vocals are striking, the players are strong, the sound is compelling, and her writing captivating.

Her first two studio albums (Let Me Love You, 2005; Little Tiny Secrets, 2007) and EP (Never the Pretty Girl, 2007 – sold for charity) were well received by critics, earning praise locally and nationally and securing her performance opportunities overseas, and she hasn't slowed down since. The acclaim for Heat Sin Water Skin has been widespread, with in-store play at Starbucks stores nationwide, lots of radio coverage, and positively glowing reviews in both the U.S. and Europe.

In her short career, BettySoo has earned multiple songwriting awards (including Kerrville New Folk, Wildflower! Festival, Sisters Folk Festival & Big Top Chautauqua Songwriter of the Year). She has proven herself an engaging and hilarious performer as well, invited back to perform at all fore aforementioned festivals, in addition to being billed at the Vancouver Island Music Festival, Nashville's Tin Pan South, Woody Guthrie Folk Festival, and Old Settler's Music Festival. She also enjoys teaching workshops on a variety of subjects including singing and different aspects of songwriting, at Acoustic Alaska Guitar Camp and Sisters Americana Song Academy.

And of course, there’s the whole issue of her name. How did a second-generation Korean end up with such a classic southern name? Is it a stage name? “No,” she answers, laughing, “I guess I’m just lucky that way. It’s right there on my birth certificate. Soo is my dad’s middle name, too. Yep, he’s a boy named Soo.”

Lyrics

Stay

Written By: BettySoo

This a song about floating disaster
A mother without her child
The memory of little fingers
Clutching someone familiar
Left behind

This is a song about
Lives unremembered
When the ocean swalled
Everyone who knew the faces
Unnumbered graces

My last breath
Crowded by water
Rushing in before
I can say what I'd say
That you are my very life
And I'd love you for life
If I could stay

This is a song about
Houses drowning
And that picture of you
That got washed away
And I wish I could remember
All the old days
And the way that
You smiled at me from the frame

This is a song about
How I wish
Living was as easy as a choice
Make the right decision
Put the blade aside
Wake up in the morning
For one more day

My last breath
Crowded by water
Rushing in before
I can say what I'd say
That you are my very life
And I'd love you for life
If I could stay

The Story of Us

Written By: BettySoo

If there was a song
Of the story of us
It wouldn't have a refrain
There'd be a hundred verses
And never the same line
Coming back round again
I'd play it
And you would understand it
And give it just the right name

If there was a song
Of the story of us
It would feel new
With every word
And everyone would think
I was crazy for saying
It's the best song
I ever heard
There would never be another
I would prefer

If there was a song
Of the story of us
It would be easy to sing
It would shout to the world
That what makes us the happiest
Are usually the silliest things
And maybe no one else
Would get it
But that wouldn't mean a thing

Never the Pretty Girl

Written By: BettySoo

I was never the pretty girl
I was never the homecoming queen
Never the one boys followed around
I was just the one who heard their secrets out

I was never the heartbreaker
I was never the first one that you'd see
Never the one you dreamt about
I was always just good old reliable me

I was never the fastest one
Never the one who made it up to the top
Never the favorite
I was always the friend nobody regrets

I was never the bravest or most sure
I was never the shyest or most demure
Never the mystery to unfurl
Never the pretty girl

But if you'll take a chance on a plain face
You'll find a heart that's up for the race
You'll find a head full of thoughts of love
You'll find a hand that will fit like a glove

And if you come back for a second look
You'll find a tender heart loneliness shook
You'll find eyes filled with the glow of you
You'll find us two

I was never the pretty girl
I was never the homecoming queen
Never the one boys followed around
I was just the one who heard their secrets out

I was never the bravest or most sure
I was never the shyest or most demure
Never the mystery to unfurl
Never the pretty girl

Whisper My Name

Written By: BettySoo

You lifted my chin and brushed the hair from my face
And your hand felt warm when it slipped around my waist
I’ve never been good at learning my place
But all my thoughts escaped when you whispered my name

When you whisper my name
When you breathe me in
When you hold me close
All the trouble I’ve seen
Disappears into the night
And I know the tighter I hold onto you
The more everything will become right
When you whisper my name

The stars seem to shine brighter when you’re near
And you see when I’m sad before I shed a tear
Never felt so at home in my skin till you got here
And when you lean down and whisper, you erase my fear

When you whisper my name
When you breathe me in
When you hold me close
All the trouble I’ve seen
Disappears into the night
And I know the tighter I hold onto you
The more everything will become right
When you whisper my name

I thought I knew what love was long before I met you
Lived plenty of years with a heart broken in two

Just Another Lover

Written By: BettySoo

Am I just another lover to you
Another piece of skin you could get close to
Someplace warm where you once fit in
Invisible, expendable as oxygen
Am I just another lover to you

Am I a well you once drew from
A place to wet your dry tongue
Not quite good as a spring
Just enough to get you by not enough to cling to
Am I a well you once drew from

Am I a dirt road you left behind
Leading to a place you don’t want to find
Not paved and pretty but I took you through
Why did you decide to pick up and move
Am I a dirt road you left behind

Am I just another lover to you
Another piece of skin you could get close to
Someplace warm where you once fit in
Essential but forgettable as oxygen
Am I just another lover to you

Revival

Written By: BettySoo

The rich they’re giving to the poor
The hungry ain’t starving no more
People acting what they say they believe
Not just words that fall to the street
Power shows more sympathy than greed

No more the woman in strife
No husband beating his wife
No child left hungry and alone
No running away on her own
Every family a warm home

Is this revival? Waking them up from the dead
Isn’t this revival? Is this what the Son of man did?

Well hallelujah then give me revival
For the lost and for the need
And hallelujah bring revival
For the broken things in me
Oh hallelujah it’ll take revival
Cause I am weak and I’m just one
Revival, hallelujah, come

Who Knows

Written By: BettySoo

Everybody's packing up their cars
And headed for the highway
95 miles never took so long
Didn't have much time
Took your two favorite things
You could carry
Pray you don't run out of gas
Before the wind gets strong

Who knows
If there'll be a place to come home to
Who knows
If the nails and plywood will hold
Who knows
If it's any safer where we're going
But it's west and north for now

Sky had enough
Of being taken for granted
Housewife you only noticed
For her clothes
Told you she was angry
Like a man you're laughing at her
Saying how pretty she looks
Before she blows

Who knows
If there'll be a place to come home to
Who knows
If the foundation we dug will hold
Who knows
If it's any safer where we're going
But it's west and north for now

Who knows
If there'll be a place to come home to
Who knows
If the nails and plywood will hold
Who knows
If it's any safer where we're going
But it's west and north for now

Secrets

Written By: BettySoo

I never wanted to fall in love
I thought alone was the life for me
Never longed for another
To fulfill my fantasy
I never thought that I was lonely

Then you appeared
And changed that completely
I gave my tender heart to you
You said you'd be forever true
But then you took my tiny heart and ran

Now I've got secrets
That you'd like to know
Secrets you can't live without
I know things you're dying to know
Secrets you know nothing about

Did that coffee taste a little strange
The day you came over to arrange
The division of our property?
I might have been a bit surprised
When you said you'd take
The house and car
But surely even I
Wouldn't go that far

Now I've got secrets
You'd be better off knowing
Secrets you won't live without
I know things you're dying to know
Little tiny secrets
You know nothing about

Oh I've got secrets
You'd be better off knowing
Little secrets you won't live without
But don't wait for me
To tell you what they are
Until our cash is safely stored
Inside my private bank account

What a strange disaster
That's something a new car
Shouldn't do
I paced the floor just waiting to hear
If you'd pull through

Oh I've got secrets
That you'd like to know
Secrets you can't live without
I know things you're dying to know
Secrets you know nothing about

Never Knew No Love

Written By: BettySoo

When the sun
Is still beating down September
Can't touch your toes to the pavement
In the afternoon
Swinging out front
Wondering whether
Sins of the summer gonna come
Catch up with you soon

Never knew no dirt
Didn't come off in the kitchen
Never knew no stain
Like the one you're hiding now
Never knew no man
Like the one you been missing
Never knew no love
Could break love's vow

Fan my face
But the moving just makes me hotter
Try to sit still
As the creek down by the way
That dry bed
Ain't seen no fresh water
Spent the last two months
Drying out without the rain

Never knew no dirt
Didn't come off in the kitchen
Never knew no stain
Like the one I'm hiding now
Never knew no man
Like the one I been missing
Never knew no love
Could break love's vow

Can't go back to the water's edge
Can't go back to his arms
Can't go dip beneath the glass surface
Can't dry off in the summer sun

Discography

BettySoo has released her fourth album, Lie To Me, in 2011. It is an acoustic duo project with Canadian Dobro master Doug Cox.

Her third studio album, Heat Sin Water Skin, produced by Gurf Morlix (Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier) was released in 2009 and is her most recent solo release (recorded with band).

BettySoo released her second full-length album, Little Tiny Secrets, along with her 4-song EP, Never the Pretty Girl, in the fall of 2007, and her debut album, Let Me Love You, was released in 2005.

Set List

Her set length ranges anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours, so the set list changes often. For shows over 90 minutes, she prefers to play multiple sets.

You can find her playing at a range of locations - from bars and nightclubs to large wedding receptions to house concerts - and she's equally comfortable in any setting.

Her original song set list can run up to several hours. Additionally, a few examples of cover songs BettySoo performs may include:
Gotta Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan
Ain’t Leaving Your Love – Townes Van Zandt
Dublin Blues - Guy Clark
Do Right Woman, Do Right Man - Dan Penn
Johnny Too Blue - Trish Murphy
Speed of the Sound of Loneliness - John Prine
Lonesome Whistle - Hank Williams
Sin City - Gram Parsons
Jolene - Dolly Parton