Preview: Amanda Pascali at Anderson Fair

In a pre-digital world, hand written letters were the only way to reach someone leaving behind physical breadcrumbs and clues for anyone who may come across them in the future.

For Houston’s Amanda Pascali, a batch of old love letters to her father from a woman she never knew named Mihaela ignited a chain of wonder rooted in the unnerving possibility that if things had gone differently, Pascali herself could be someone completely different.

This is the premise of Pascali’s latest single “Mihaela, Mihaela” out on May 26. “Mihaela, Mihaela” is the latest single from Pascali’s upcoming EP, The Messenger due out this summer.

She will perform at Anderson Fair on Friday, May 28 and plans on an album release show at the Heights Theater for her EP release.

Pascali came across the letters when she was 17 and visiting her father’s home country of Romania where they stayed in her grandmother’s old apartment. As she tried to read them without really knowing how to read the language, she knew the letters were saying something meaningful but needed the help of her father to really break them down.

“I’m really lucky that I have such a close relationship with my dad that we are able to talk about some of those things and that he feels comfortable talking about some of those things,” says Pascali who often uses the influence of her parent’s journey to the United States and the experiences of all immigrants as the inspiration behind her work.

“Maybe he wasn’t comfortable talking about them but anyways he did,” she adds. Talking about these letters opened a young Pascali’s eyes to the idea that her mother and father could have easily been other people, leading her down a rabbit hole of possibilities for herself and them while coming to the realization that they were more than just her parents, they were people with lives and feelings beyond her knowledge.

The letters were addressed to “Soldier Pascali” as the young and broken hearted Mihaela did not know where Pascali’s father was after he was sent to a forced labor camp and later decided to immigrate to the United States.

Her father never responded to the woman’s desperate requests to know not only where he was, but how he felt about her and their shared love.  When asked if he ever got in touch her, Pascali says Mihaela reached out to him via Facebook.

“He didn’t forget about her, it’s just that at that point, that chapter of his life ended. He always tells me that when he was getting ready to come to the United States he thought, ‘My life is basically over. I’m going to America and I’m probably going to wash toilets for a long time in America but it’s better than where I’m coming from now.’”

“Mihaela, Mihaela” was written by Pascali not long after the experience of unearthing and exploring the letters. As a teenager she recorded the song in her music teacher’s garage but the song has continued to stick with her as her sound and art and voice have evolved.

“The reason why I’ve decided to re-record it is because there are so many songs that I’ve written from my childhood that I’ve outgrown but this song has continued to grow with me. I think I wrote it about one thing in particular at the time and as I get older, it’s become about many other things.

“It’s a song that has layers and I think that in a weird way when I was writing it I didn’t know quite how many layers it had while I was writing about it was like it was something bigger than what I could understand and yet I still produced it.

The song incorporates heavy strings in a classical arrangement leading to a crescendo of rock and roll energy and angst, a self-described nod to Pascali’s teenage years where she played weekends with a rock band before establishing herself as a folk artist.

“This is a song about the multiverse. This is a song about the different versions of myself that could exist in other universes had my parents made different decisions but it’s also a song about being thankful for the person that I’ve become in this life knowing all of the decisions that my parents made and continuing to learn about those decisions as I get older and continuing to make my own decisions to chart out the course of my own life.”

“Mihaela, Mihaela” is for streaming and Amanda Pascali will perform on Friday, May 27 at Anderson Fair, 2007 Grant. 7:30 p.m, $27.

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