Diane Birch was chatting with a friend one day, when, about 20 minutes into their conversation, she learned that her friend's father had recently died.
Saddened, she went to her piano and immediately started writing a song called "Fire Escape."
It's the first track on Birch's new album, Bible Belt. The next song, "Valentino," is dedicated to her imaginary friend from her teenage years.
"I was kind of obsessed with the 18th century, and I felt very misunderstood, and like I had been placed in the wrong time period," she says. "Valentino was a sort of character I created as a sort of muse. In a way, the song is like a little ode to my innocence — it's like a farewell song to that sort of childish imagination. He looked very much like Mozart."
The singer, songwriter and pianist had an eclectic musical upbringing. Her music is filled with the language and sounds of gospel and church music — her father was a preacher. She also lived in Zimbabwe and Australia, where her parents constantly played classical records, as a child.
"I'd wake up to [soprano] Joan Sutherland screaming in my ear," Birch says. "It's an amazing alarm clock — that's the best kind of scream."
Birch spoke with host Liane Hansen about Bible Belt.
To hear the full interview with Diane Birch, click the link at the top of the page starting around noon ET on June 14.