One day last year, as Reno native and singer-songwriter April Meservy waited in the studio to record backup vocals for another artist, she struck up a conversation with the engineer. Soon, the small talk turned to Meservy’s long-term relationship which was coming to an end and she broke down in tears.
She admitted that she couldn’t carry on with or without her significant other. The engineer turned to the keyboard and began plunking out the chords to the iconic U2 song, and encouraged Meservy to hit the booth. She sang the cover in one take, eyes drying as she read the lyrics for the first time in years, appreciating them in a whole new way.
Besides some re-edited vocals and polished piano parts, Meservy’s performance was left unvarnished. Now, the raw emotion captured on her version of “With or Without You” will take an international stage, as Pair Figure Skaters Eric Radford and Meagan Duhamel have chosen to skate to it in their Short Program in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
Meservy found out they had been skating to her song all season when she was tagged in a Facebook post back in August.
“Watching them has been really emotional for me,” Merservy said. “Obviously that song was so personally meaningful. Then to see them bring their art and their expression to how they hear the song and what they see in that story. Just the way they interpret it is beautiful. It’s been really a powerful thing.”
Thanks to an anonymous donation, Meservy was able to travel to see Radford and Duhamel qualify for the Olympic team at the 2018 Canadian National Skating Championships.
“It feels like there’s been this series of really amazing things that have connected,” Meservy said. “Around Christmas I received this letter and it had my flight tickets and tickets were arranged for me to go watch them skate at their national championship.”
All season, Radford and Duhamel strove to pass 80 points. At the championships, they finally accomplished that and received a record-breaking seventh national title.
“They felt really emotionally connected to it, which they feel has really helped their skating this season,” Meservy said. “I think they have their own story with the song, why it’s meaningful to them, especially because this last year I guess they had a kind of rocky year with skating and it was causing them to question themselves. This brought them hope.”
Meservy added that Radford and Duhamel are “Some of the most down to Earth, gracious people ever.”
Now, yet another anonymous donation has allowed her to see them perform to her song in South Korea at the Olympics. Meservy wanted to go, but, in her words, she is a singer-songwriter and “doesn’t have a ton of cash to burn.”
“I don’t even know who he or she or they are that’s doing it, but it’s a total dream come true miracle for me,” Meservy said.
Originally, Meservy was hesitant about even releasing the song at all.
“I was nervous to do it because it’s such a famous song,” Meservy said. “It’s one of those songs that are perfect and wonderful and people have so many strong attachments to, just like I did. That’s one of those songs which feels too sacred to touch. Part of me didn’t want to invite a lot of criticism.
Eventually, her better judgement took over.
“I’ve been trying to be more courageous in some ways in my music and my personal life,” Meservy said. “So, I just felt like this is something that is really meaningful. The experience was very meaningful when we recorded it. It was in the middle of that grief. So many people go through experiences where they feel torn. I thought, other people who might identify with this arrangement of it. In the past, I haven’t talked super openly about my relationships. For some reason it felt hard to put that out there. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to talk about that yet.”
On Jan. 25, Meservy released her EP “The Good-Morrow,” a collection of four covers including “Fix You” by Coldplay. The inspiration for her cover of “Murder in the City” comes from listening to the song over and over again on the train rides between Salt Lake City and Reno.
“It boils down to the one line, I think: ‘Always remember that there was nothing worth sharing like the love that let us share our name,’” Meservy said. “That’s their concluding line in this letter they wrote if they got murdered in the city. Which, unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more, or at least we know more about situations like this where one minute they’re there and the next minute they’re gone … The Avett Brothers said it perfectly so I don’t have to.”
Although she now lives in Utah, Meservy was born and raised in Reno and still comes back several times a year and visits family. She even has a rousing adaptation of “Home Means Nevada.” She played in a band here and remembers the Reno music scene fondly.
“I personally loved it,” Meservy said. “There’s always places you can play. There’s different community events. There’s artown. There’s different festivals and community things, either downtown or near the river or wherever. And then different places like Walden’s. One of my first gigs was at the rib cookoff.”
Meservy says she is grateful for the ways Reno has shaped her as a person.
“Growing up on the outskirts of Reno, I felt like there was a lot of room to run around as kids,” Meservy said. “I just remember when it would rain, and you could just smell so strongly the sage and the whole desert beautiful smell. It made me love the sunsets. Nevada has some of the greatest sunsets for sure. The way the sky would light up in the evening or the morning. It gave me a really great appreciation for art and for nature and for the land. I love that you can hear the coyotes. It would scare me as a child a little bit. But it kind of helped like we were living on the edge of this big beautiful land, this open space. Something about that has developed within me a love for different types of landscapes and different sounds like the wind.”
Look out for Meservy’s rendition of “With or Without You” at the Olympics during Duhamel and Radford’s Short Program. Meservy’s music is available on iTunes, Spotify and other streaming services.