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Family's Travels Molded Singer's Music

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, July 31, 2009

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Singer-songwriter Diane Birch lived in Michigan for a minute — well, about six months.

Birch was born in Berrien Springs, where her father, a Seventh Day Adventist minister, was getting his doctorate in theology. The family’s subsequent travels took it back to her parents’ native South Africa, then to Australia and Portland, Ore. Despite the movement, however, Birch found growing up to be “pretty normal.”

“I didn’t know any different; I thought it was how everybody lived,” says Birch, 26, who now resides in Brooklyn and released her debut album, “Bible Belt,” earlier this month. “It was fun. You get to see a lot of new places.

“But it was hard, too; you make a lot of friends, get close and have to say goodbye. Then you’re in a new place and you feel like an outsider and have to create your own world.”

Birch did that through music, which started with Suzuki Method piano lessons when she was 7 years old and also was influenced by a combination of the religious and classical music her parents played at home and, once in the U.S., by discovering video music channels and pop radio.

“I remember seeing a video on MTV, randomly, Michael Jackson’s ‘Bad,’ ” Birch says. “I was completely stunned. I had never seen anything like that, and this was in the late ’80s or early ’90s, after it had been around for awhile. We didn’t have TV when I was growing up.

“So I was sort of passing by a doorway at my parents’ friends’ house and saw it on MTV and said, ‘What is this?!’ They laughed at me, but it was definitely mind-blowing.”

Diane Birch performs Saturday (Aug. 1) at The Crofoot Ballroom, 1 S. Saginaw St., Pontiac. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 day of show. Call (248) 858-9333 or visit www.thecrofoot.com.

Web Site: www.thecrofoot.com

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