Singer-songwriter and pianist Anne Heaton will perform with Seth Greer at SPACE tonight.Photo by Asia Klepka

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Anne Heaton will perform with Seth Greer in a show scheduled for Jan. 16 at SPACE, 1245 Chicago Ave. in Evanston. She recently spoke to The RoundTable about the path leading to her career in performance art.

Ms. Heaton studied classical piano from the time she was 3 years old until she graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Chicago. She then went to Notre Dame where she entered a “Great Books” program. While writing papers analyzing the books she read, she started writing music and came to the realization that writing music was her “real love.” She sang in a rock band throughout her college years.

After graduating, Ms. Heaton  spent considerable time in New York and Boston. One night, while she was in New York, she decided to take a chance and participated in an “open mike” event. To her great dismay, as she got up on the stage to sing, she found herself gasping for breath. Stage fright loomed large and threatened to stop her in her tracks. Nonetheless, Ms. Heaton says, she realized that fear could be channeled into energy. The excitement she experienced led to the realization that performance art was a conduit to connecting with people.

Ms. Heaton describes herself as a “folk-pop” singer and songwriter. Some of her heroes are Peter Gabriel and Indigo Girls.

Ms. Heaton began touring primarily in the Northeast and Midwest. In the meantime, she returned to her North Shore roots.

Ms. Heaton then would frequently fly to the east coast rent a car, and tour. As time went by, Ms. Heaton said she enjoyed not only playing in front of fans but actually becoming friends with many audience members. She found that many of these friends returned to subsequent concerts.

Talking to fans resulted in feedback that she believes enhanced her understanding of performance art and enabled her to improve her performances over time. The songs she wrote and performed became her method of commenting on the love she felt for family and friends. She says she feels that some of her best work resulted from “converting poems into songs” and ultimately concluded that music was “better than talking.”

One of Ms. Heaton’s best friends, Claire Clube, decided that she wanted to travel to Africa. While there, Ms. Clube met an orphaned boy and decided to adopt him. Tragically, Claire later died in an airplane crash while in Africa. A portion of the sales from Ms. Heaton’s next CD, entitled “Dora,” will be dedicated for the welfare of Ms. Clube’s son.

The lives of Ms. Heaton and Ms. Clube converged in several ways. They both experienced the end of marriages in divorce but both felt the need to reclaim their lives and a sense of self they gave up in their unfulfilling marriages.

Ultimately, Ms. Heaton says, she resolved to not let that dark time overtake her. As she continued her tours, Ms. Heaton ultimately met and began playing with Frank Marotta, a guitarist and vocalist. As their relationship matured, the two married. They moved from Boston to Chicago in 2011 and now live in Evanston with daughters Cecelia and Helen.