Elisabeth von Trapp didn't speak about a divided nation in her 16-minute phone interview.
Rather, when the subject arose, the Vermont singer with the hauntingly clear voice mentioned churches she visits with "wonderful citizens" who make a difference. They're dedicated to building community, she says.
So von Trapp, granddaughter of Maria and Baron von Trapp, whose story inspired "The Sound of Music," hopes to elevate those congregants' vision of connectedness when she sings.
"I feel that we need to be reminded of what we actually have," she says.
Savannahians have a chance to hear the acclaimed performer live at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 at Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church. The concert will last about 80 minutes. Admission free and the public is welcome. Donations will be accepted during the performance with a suggested contribution of $10. Asbury will receive 10 percent of all donations for its children's ministries.
"We are looking forward to hosting Elisabeth von Trapp at our church and sharing this experience with the community," said the Rev. Billy Hester, Asbury's pastor. "It will truly be incredible to experience Elisabeth's talent derived from the legendary von Trapp family."
Von Trapp, playing either her nylon-string guitar or beautiful Martin J-40 guitar, will sing a range of songs, from Bach to Broadway and Schubert to Sting. Rodgers & Hammerstein's "Something Good" from "The Sound of Music" is included.
With eloquence and ease, she sings the sacred and secular, soaring gospel tunes, pop classics and her own compositions.
She was born into a family of musicians, including her father Werner von Trapp's guitar playing and singing.
Singing professionally since childhood, she has sung for audiences from European cathedrals to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and hundreds of performance halls and churches across the nation.
Her early memories include singing "Silent Night" in church and playing a small plastic guitar. She took piano lessons at age 8, and at age 16, traveled New England's back roads with her siblings to perform at weddings, town halls and gospel meetings.
Von Trapp built on her family's passion for music to create her own artistic style. Her sound, like her musical tastes, covers a range: From ethereal and earthy to delicate and powerful.
She has released five self-produced albums and been featured on National Public Radio, BBC-Radio, Japanese National Radio and CNN Spanish Radio. She has appeared on CBS's "Eye on People," ABC's "Good Morning America" and BBC-TV.
But the work is her pleasure.
Von Trapp lists performing among her hobbies of tandem riding with her husband and hosta gardening.
"It's not just a profession," she says.
As far as her music's effect, she believes concertgoers each have their own takeaway at the end of a performance.
But music, the "language of the soul," motivates and uplifts, according to von Trapp.
"I think we're all surrounded at times with things that feel broken," she says.
She hopes the concert inspires people with courage and hope for their lives.
"I notice that music tempers life's challenges," von Trapp says.
IF YOU GO
What: Elisabeth von Trapp concert
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 7
Where: Asbury Memorial United Methodist Church, 1008 E. Henry St.
Cost: Free, $10 donation suggested
Info: 912-233-4351, asburymemorial.org, elisabethvontrapp.com
See Elisabeth von Trapp performing and clips from "The Sound of Music" with this article at dosavannah.com.