By Johnny Griffith
Some people are just blessed with what seems like an endless well of creativity, and there are the rest of us who have to work to get the ideas flowing. From the moment you meet Elfin Paige, you get this calm, laid-back evening breeze vibe that belies the creative hurricane going on inside her head, and for good reason … this single mom wears a lot of hats. She is a part time photographer and a writer, publishing two books already, with a third on the way in September, oh, and she’s a really good singer/songwriter who has found her way to many stages in the East Texas area already.
I ran across her recently while she was getting ready to play a show, and sat down to get to know her a little better.
Johnny: You’re not originally from this area. Where were you born and what brought you out this way?
Elfin: I was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Stockton, California, but I grew up mostly in and around San Diego until my early teens, when my family moved to East Texas. Mom and dad decided to move back to Lindale when I was 13. So on Thanksgiving Day, 1994, we unloaded the U-Haul into that first rental house on FM 16. Mom and dad had been in a ministry called The Agape Force here in the 1970’s. At that time they were close friends with Keith Green, Winkie Pratney, and many other well known people in the local ministry circuit. They moved back to serve with Winkie in his ongoing ministry.
Johnny: What do you feel was the biggest cultural adjustment when you came out this way?
Elfin: People burning things in their front yards and strangers waving from their cars.
Johnny: What is your earliest memory of music?
Elfin: My parents are singer-songwriters, so all my life. There was never much money, but I grew up with mom and dad’s gold and platinum records hanging on our trailer house walls. I was in the recording studio for the first time at age 6.
Johnny: At what point did you take more than a passing interest and whom do you credit for fostering that spark?
Elfin: It was never NOT a thing. Like I mentioned, it was my family culture. At family get togethers you get together and sing Beach Boys songs with all the harmonies for fun.
Johnny: When did you feel the desire to begin writing your own music as opposed to just playing other people’s stories?
Elfin:Well, I am, first and foremost, a writer. I was 8 years old the first time I wrote a song that was actually recorded and used for a kids project my parents were working on at the time.
Johnny: What do you enjoy writing about the most, or do the songs just take a life of their own?
Elfin: I can do either/both. Sometimes I write out of necessity, as a way to process pain and emotion. But other times I’ve had a friend call me and ask, “Can you give me two songs for this children’s project about such and such,” and the next day I’m like, “Actually, here’s three.”
Johnny: You’re also creative in other outlets besides music. Do you find the different mediums influencing each other or blending together at times?
Elfin: Certainly it’s all intertwined. I am, I guess, what they would call “a creative.” So I can transition very easily from one medium to another. It’s less about being good at X, Y or Z, more about the way my brain works, I think. I am also very tenacious, so if I don’t do something creative excellently right at first, well we can’t have that, give me just a minute.
Johnny: A big part of your outlet as a writer was inspired by your son. Can you tell us a little about that part of your life?
Elfin: My second to youngest of my 5 children, Trey, was born with severe health problems, and I spent the 3 years he was with us either in the hospital with him, or caring for him at home, while also doing all-the-things. When he passed, I started doing photography part time, and nannying a special needs little girl and her brother for several years. I also served as the children’s pastor, and one of the worship leaders at Bethesda Church, in Lindale. In 2017 my autobiographical book, “From Ashes,” about our many adventures, and life with (and then without) Trey, was released. That same year the first children’s book I co-authored with my friend, best selling thriller novelist Jennifer Jaynes, was also released. It’s called “I Care About Me.” Jennifer and I have been working together on a second kids book entitled “Just The Way I Am.” It’s set to drop in September. Additionally, I have been collecting interviews for a documentary project over the last few years. It’s about parents, and the aftermath of abortion.
Johnny: What do you remember about the first show you ever played?
Elfin: So I’ve been singing all my life and I don’t really have a memory of the first time I did that publicly. Probably a play at church as a small child. I have zero nerves singing in public. But the first time I started playing my guitar publicly I was already in my thirties, and my palms would sweat every dang time for a solid year!
Johnny: Do you typically play solo or do you ever collaborate with others on stage?
Elfin: Both. I have spent the bulk of my time as a singer backing up other people, singing harmonies, or being part of group acts. I am pretty adept at hearing what’s already there and knowing how to complement that without overpowering it or taking over. However, I’m a pretty strong lead vocalist, and I think I’ve become a little restless always being everybody’s backup girl. So I’m playing more on my own now.
Johnny: Who would you say had the biggest impact musically on you?
Elfin: Being raised by creatives and songwriters has to count for something. But beyond that, I had a very eclectic set of music I was exposed to. As a kid I would pull CD’s from my dad’s collection and listen to The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Todd Rundgren, The Zombies, you name it. Mostly stuff that was before my time. But then I also listened to current stuff as I was growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. I’d take my boom box, lock myself in the bathroom, and practice hitting notes with Celine Dion and Mariah Carrey for hours on end when I was 12. As a teenager, my best friend loved country music, so I was introduced to that whole scene, but my favorites were the ones who were sort of mocked for not being “country enough,” like Faith Hill and Shania Twain. I don’t know if there are very many Shania songs I wouldn’t know every word to if you put them on.
Johnny: So that being said, how would you describe your sound/style?
Elfin: That’s a good question, which I have asked myself on numerous occasions. I never quite know how to answer me, but I’ve begun saying Americana/Folk, for lack of a better description.
Johnny: About how many shows do try to play a month?
Elfin: As many as I can manage right now, since I don’t have a regular job to pay the bills.
Johnny: What’s coming up during the rest of the year that has you excited?
Elfin: It’s very cool the locals in the music scene have nominated me for best female vocalist in the upcoming ETX Music Awards in September. “Just The Way I Am” releasing the same month is also exciting! Beyond that I’m just sort of flying by the seat of my pants, waiting to see what the Lord will do, trusting, moving when I feel I’m supposed to, being still and trying not to panic when it doesn’t feel like things are happening like I’d hoped or thought they would.
Follow Elfin at facebook.com/elfinpaigemusic/.