Susan Alcorn began playing the pedal steel guitar over 25 years ago, and in that time has evolved into a musician/composer of such rare inspiration that her music has redefined, for many, the very perception of the instrument itself.
As a child in the 1950's and 1960's she was surrounded by the big-band music that her parents listened to as well as the pop music that blared on her radio. She picked up the guitar when she was thirteen, and soon began playing slide guitar (inspired in particular by Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson and Son House) and dobro (her favorites were Mike Auldridge, Josh Graves, and Tut Taylor). A few years later, she began playing the pedal steel guitar and performed regularly with country-western bands in Texas.
Although Alcorn's initial work with pedal steel focused on the styles of the players usually associated with it - namely, country and western swing, she was at the same time profoundly influenced by John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and 20th Century classical composers such as Messaien, Penderecki, and Piazzolla. By the late 1980s, after performing straight-ahead jazz for ten years, she took the advice of Paul Bley, with whom she had been corresponding; she "threw away the real book" and began to develop a truly distinct approach to the instrument - one that incorporates jazz, minimalism, Gamelan Music, Indian Classical music, the folk music of Latin America, to name but a few of the catalysts.
Although Susan Alcorn typically plays solo, she has collaborated in performance with electronic composer Pauline Oliveros, German bassist Peter Kowald, and multi-instrumentalist Eugene Chadbourne. "Uma", her debut CD, was released on the US label Loveletter Recordings in the summer of 2000, and a CD of recordings with Chadbourne, "Texas Music", was released on Chadbourne's own imprint soon afterward. Ms. Alcorn currently resides in Houston, TX