Chanteuse Meschiya Lake-Härm is bidding a fond farewell to New Orleans after 18 years. She was the figurehead, the homing beacon for the zeitgeist of the Frenchmen Street trad scene and will be sorely missed. She played her last regular gig at the Spotted Cat on May 1 and has since set off to her new home in Ireland.
What made you decide to leave New Orleans?
I’ve been here 18 years so not just one thing could make me make the decision. I married a European man, gave birth to a daughter, and then Donald Trump got elected. I used to think New Orleans is the only place in the United States that I can live and that’s definitely true. But with the current political climate and having a baby girl, there are social systems in Europe that can be offered to her. Also, she’ll have a U.S. passport and an Irish passport so she’ll just have more options. We’ve got a five-bedroom Georgian house that’s gonna end up costing less than the two-bedroom house I have on St Claude! Five bedrooms, three baths, and a bidet! It’s unbelievable.
I’ve visited there a few times. My husband moved here from there. In the year before we were married I went there often to visit him. It’s a beautiful place and it’s got the nicest people you’ll ever meet. It’s also very musical. We’re gonna be in County Cork about fifteen minutes from Cork City which has a great little arts and music scene.
Do you plan to continue singing?
I won’t get to be in my new home for six weeks. I’m starting out with a six-week tour of Europe. I’m gonna be working primarily with a band out of Berlin called Dizzy Birds. We’re going to do a tour of Holland and then Ascona Jazz Festival. I am going to be playing the Cork Jazz Festival, but I don’t have anything regular in Ireland and I’m kinda looking forward to that because I just want to be around my kid more.
What will you miss the most about New Orleans?
I will miss my family the most. The people. Because those are the things that aren’t replaceable. Material things are replaceable and they have lots of material things in other countries, but they don’t have the people.
Will you come back?
I will be coming back. My last gig at the Spotted Cat, the owners Doug and Bill gave me money to come back next spring. So my ticket is already bought! I’ll also come back in September to get my puppy dog and a few things.