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Merritt's sojourn abroad helps feed her creativity

Singer-songwriter Tift Merritt traveled the world for a musical journey. And it wasn't a tour.

After a Grammy nomination for '04's “ Tambourine” mistakenly pegged her as a country artist, Merritt fled to Paris with no plans to write.

Yet she penned a batch of songs.

“(There are) the ghosts of so many amazing writers and this tradition of American writers that go to France to write,” says Merritt from her parents' house in Raleigh. “You definitely feel those ghosts. You feel a part of that tradition.”

Isolation also fed her creativity.

“Sometimes isolation or anonymity or freedom from your day-to-day life can shake things up. Being outside your own language and culture takes it even further,” she says.

After three months in Europe, the sunny blonde recorded an album in California. Then she and boyfriend-drummer Zeke Hutchins relocated to New York City.

“We do so much of the business (side). We felt like we were isolated on the farm in North Carolina where we were living. We wanted to sit at the table of our business,” she says.

The Texan-born beauty who moved to the Carolinas at age 2 brings an angelic voice and roots-rock and soul to Visulite on Thursday (Sept. 4). She's happy to come home and doubts the move will be permanent.

“There's so much music and art (in New York), but I love the humidity (in North Carolina),” she says. “I love an afternoon thunderstorm. I love the farmers' markets.” Her band still lives in Raleigh.

Merritt gets a taste of being on the other side of the interview on “ The Spark,” a monthly radio show that she records from the road. It airs on West Texas' Marfa Public Radio.

“I just wanted to find a way to learn from other artists and get outside of my own work,” she says of interviewing artists such as author Nick Hornby, band Nickel Creek and classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein.