SHIRLEY -- Emilie Faucher, Family & Friends will perform unplugged at the Historic Meeting House on Saturday, April 5.

The eclectic event Faucher sketched in a recent interview sounds like "fun fun fun," as promised.

The program will feature "joyful songs with only a couple of tearful tunes," she said. Suitable for spring, officially out on the calendar but out of synch with wintry weather.

Thus the hopeful title "The Big Thaw."

It is her third "collective" performance at the Meeting House and the first "all acoustic" show, Faucher said, adding that no other band she performs with plays "unplugged.

"Plugging in is wonderful," she said, but technical glitches "make me cringe." Especially in the Meeting House, where folks sang out and spoke up at church and community gatherings for centuries without electricity.

The simple sound system's main feature was the apse, vaulted ceiling above the altar (now the stage) which captured sound from the pulpit and distributed it back into the room below, clear and crisp and even, with occasional echoes, modulated for effect. Practiced preachers and public speakers knew all about volume control.

Those architectural perks still exist. Today, as they did yesterday, voices ring the Meeting House rafters like choirs of angels. If one can imagine how that would sound.

It is a "rare and wonderful" place to perform, Faucher said. "You can feel the history."

Given the building's thrilling natural acoustics and its 300-year record as a gathering place, this function aims to fit the form, with visual art as well as music, Faucher said.

Local artist Don Reed agreed to lend some of his locally evocative work to be exhibited in the foyer as guests enter to the strains of classical guitar played by Catherine O'Kelly.

Faucher learned about O'Kelly through her mother, Deborah, whose family business, Golden Girl Granola, is headquartered at Phoenix Park and whom she met at the Shirley Hoe Down, at one of the craft and trade booths set up on the town common.

About the Artist

Emilie Faucher is a Shirley native who returned to her hometown a decade ago after some years away and now lives with her son and her mother in the house she grew up in.

Known for her creamy-rich vocals and vibrant style, Faucher's name often appears on area playbills, including the Bull Run, where "Emilie Faucher, Family & Friends" headlined the annual Meeting House fundraising kickoff dinner and show this year.

Multi-talented, Faucher also plays piano and guitar and seems equally at home on stage in an ensemble or solo. Her repertoire ranges from folk songs to show tunes to jazz.

Her music teachers at the Lura A. White School in the 1970s and '80s were her muses. "They left a lasting impression," she said. "The school had a wonderful music program."

Faucher jokingly calls her three-tiered lifestyle "the holy trinity," making music for love while loving the work she does for a living as a professional massage therapist and seasonal caretaker for a property with animals.

She plays with four different bands, but she and her jazz band have decided that while they make music "for the love of it," it's time to start getting paid for it, too, she said.

Connection

For about a year, Faucher has been a member of the Meeting House board, a nonprofit group that maintains the old building and as part of its mission markets it as a venue, keeping its legacy as a gathering place alive and helping to pay for upkeep.

"My dearest dream" and the board's goal is to have the Meeting House "on the radar" as an arts and performance venue, she said.

It's on the local radar already, with "The Big Thaw" on April 5 and a roster that includes annual favorites like Vespers during Christmas season, "A Taste of Ireland" to celebrate St. Patrick's Day and "Broadway at the Meeting House" coming up on Saturday, June 21.

The April 5 performance starts at 7 p.m. With a capital campaign in progress to raise $150,000 for the ongoing Meeting House restoration, $10 donations will help the cause.