One-time Jim Messina collaborator Delilah Poupore comes home

It's a rare day indeed when you can say you're the physical embodiment of "from sea to shining sea." Singer/songwriter Delilah Poupore, who was born and raised in Duluth, topped a 12-year stint in California by moving all the way to the opposite ...

Delilah Poupore
Former Duluthian Delilah Poupore, who once toured with Poco's Jim Messina -- and whose work in the folk duo Antara & Delilah received nationwide exposure. Submitted photo

It's a rare day indeed when you can say you're the physical embodiment of "from sea to shining sea."

Singer/songwriter Delilah Poupore, who was born and raised in Duluth, topped a 12-year stint in California by moving all the way to the opposite end of the country. She now resides in Maine with her husband and daughter.

Poupore's coast-to-coast travels put her at an unfair advantage over your average, everyday singer-storyteller: She has so much life experience.

"I've always tried to write from the heart, telling personal stories ... just honest stories," she told the Budgeteer from her home near Portland.

Fortunately, this Duluth export has had numerous chances to have her creations heard by the public.


Poupore was able to get in rock legend Jim Messina's good graces and tour with him with her former songwriting partner, Antara Hunter.

That duo, Antara & Delilah, also landed some of their music on network TV shows such as "Party of Five" and "Joan of Arcadia."

But, like all good things, those collaborations aren't happening as frequently anymore. While still in California, Poupore met a massage therapist and fell in love. And married him.

"We decided to start a family," she said of her husband, Jonathan Drummey, whom she followed to his home state of Maine. "Although Lake Superior was really appealing to me, he really likes to be on the coast, because he grew up being able to see the ocean all the time."

Though separated by a continent, Poupore said that she's still on good terms with Hunter.

"I'm sure we'll have opportunities to play again, but it's a little challenging all the way across the country," she said, mentioning that an Antara & Delilah reunion was staged about a year and a half ago.

The Zenith City native's outlook hasn't gone unaffected by all these changes, however.

The rapid succession of life stages -- primarily the becoming-a-mother step -- has influenced her output.


"Having a daughter, there are aspects of myself that I didn't even know that I had, which I've had a chance to write about," she said of her craft's maturing lyrical content. "It's been great to be able to put it into words and into song."

As you might expect, Poupore has been dealing with the realities of being a working musician and attentive mother of late.

"I have to write fast now," she said with a laugh.

Last week she was frazzled trying to get a composition done for a musical showcase.

"My daughter went to bed, and I had a whole bunch of stuff to do, and I had one hour, and I needed to finish the bridge to my new song," Poupore said, her voice purveying the urgency. "So, inspiration had to come then or it just wasn't going to get written."

And, oh yeah, all this was going down at 5:30 in the morning.

"I've gotten a lot more efficient," she said after a reflective pause.

'Walking the Plank'


When Poupore was asked what she misses most about Duluth when she's not back in town visiting family, she was quick to fire a friendly dig our way: "Oh, snow in October," she joked.

But Poupore is no jaded "expat." The truth quickly followed: "Being able to look out at Lake Superior from so many points in the city," she said with heartfelt intonation. "What an inspiring view that is.

"... Oh, and great skiing all winter long too."

Like a lot of Northland-raised musicians we talk to, Poupore started exploring her craft at an early age.

"We always had a piano and two guitars sitting out in our living room," she said. "There are pictures of me playing the guitar when I was 4 years old.

"And I also remember, around 12 years old, starting to write my own painful love songs. [Laughs]"

A born entertainer, Poupore wasn't one to keep her talents secret. She said she sang in choirs all through Washburn Elementary, Woodland Middle School and East High.

"I just remembered recently that I sang at a whole bunch of assemblies, in front of the whole school, in high school," she said. "I really don't know how I had the guts to do that in high school."


It wouldn't be until she was living in Santa Barbara, Calif. -- home to another expat Duluth folkie, Bruce Goldish -- that her career would start to take off.

"That's where I really started focusing on songwriting, performing and recording," said Poupore, who moved out to the Golden State originally to work at a college in Los Angeles.

A songwriting workshop with legendary musician Jim Messina (of Loggins & Messina, Buffalo Springfield and Poco fame) turned out to be rather fortuitous.

"I happened to have a long weekend off and saw that there were still spots in one of his workshops," she said.

Also in attendance was Hunter, another singer/songwriter.

"[Messina] heard Antara and me sing and said, 'You two should sing together,'" Poupore said. "We thought, Well, he kinda knows a couple things about duos."

That night Hunter and Poupore started performing together.

They started doing harmonies with Messina, whom Poupore casually referred to as "Jimmy."


"We just sort of built this relationship," Poupore said, "and Antara and I kept going with our duo."

Eventually the duo started helping out Messina on songwriting workshops as well, which segued into the three performers coming together to make music.

"The three of us really developed a repertoire of his songs, so we did a tour with Jimmy too," Poupore said.

And the rest, they say, is history. The two women would go on to record four albums.

But these days, Poupore is happy out on the East Coast raising a family.

She seems particularly fond of the music scene in Portland.

"It's pretty amazing, actually," she said. "It's really supportive of singer/songwriters. Portland is a hub for tons of clubs. There are open mics every night, and there are quite a few clubs that are really listener-friendly for my style of music and other bands just starting out or building a crowd. A lot of people like to listen to original music, so it's not like you feel you have to do covers to play out in places.

"I really like it here."


Duluth native Delilah Poupore, now a Maine resident, will return home Sunday, June 20, to play a show at Beaner's Central at 7 p.m. Cost is $10. Hear samples at .

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