Hayley Orrantia is a long way from her Texas hometown on ABC’s The Goldbergs, but she’ll be closer than usual to Adam F. Goldberg’s boyhood home on April 26, when the country-singer-turned-actress brings her “Strong, Sweet & Southern” tour to the Queen in Wilmington.
Another country singer, 16-year-old Brennley Brown, from Season 12 of NBC’s The Voice, is Orrantia’s opening act.
Orrantia, who plays the one Goldberg who’s not entirely based on a person from the Jenkintown-raised creator’s actual family — through the magic of television, his oldest brother, Eric, became Erica — spoke with us from Las Vegas, where she’d attended the Academy of Country Music Awards the night before. Here, edited and condensed, is the conversation:
Fans of The Goldbergs wouldn’t be surprised by your other career, since you’ve sung on the show as Erica, but do you think they know you as a country singer?
I don’t think they do, because when I sing on the show, it’s mostly ’80s covers of all kinds, whether that’s rock or alternative or whatever. But I am from Texas, so I think if they looked into me personally a little bit, it might piece together pretty easily.
I understand there’s a special two-for-one deal for Jenkintown residents on the day of the Wilmington show for those who can present proof of residency at the box office. Do you feel as if you know the town from Adam’s writing?
I really do. I actually have run into quite a few people who have said they are from Jenkintown, and we just immediately have a different kind of connection than [with] just people who say they’re fans of the show. A lot of the times they know the real people who are characters on our show. It’s hilarious.
Are a lot of fans of The Goldbergs coming out for the tour, or is this a different audience?
I would say it’s a lot of fans of The Goldbergs, and we knew that was where the draw was going to be. But that was kind of the point, introducing myself formally as the musician that I’ve been my whole life to people who only know me as Erica Goldberg.
How long have you been writing your own songs?
I’ve been kind of personally writing since I was really little, but ones that I would say matter and that I’m starting to release? About four years ago, when I started traveling to Nashville and working with all different songwriters and kind of telling my stories as I go.
Is it true you decided to become an actress because you were advised it was a good route to a music career?
That’s true. It’s kind of a weird way to go about it, and a lot of friends of mine who are actors hate that that’s how it was because they have a hard time. It’s hard booking a show in general, and then a show that continues to be on the air? I can’t complain. It was a fantastic opportunity to book The Goldbergs, but it’s kind of a catch-22 now, because labels have a hard time committing to someone who is dedicated to a television show for the majority of the year.
I have to think that if Beverly Goldberg really were your mother, she’d love that “Mama” was the first word of “Strong, Sweet & Southern,” and at the same time would be confused by the lyrics “Mama done raise me right / She taught me how to be polite / Yes sir, no ma’am, pardon me.” Is it safe to say that your upbringing and Erica’s were somewhat different?
In some ways. The great thing about The Goldbergs is that everyone can relate to it on some level. Even though the characters Beverly and Murray Goldberg [Wendi McLendon-Covey and Jeff Garlin] are very intense and more exaggerated versions, there are similarities to my own parents.
Your song “Give Me Back Sunday” is about being homesick in L.A. Do you think Erica will ever get far enough from home to write a song like that?
There’s a little bit at the end of this season where Erica’s at college and I think she starts to miss the things about home that she took for granted when she was there. So I think you’ll actually see her experience a little of that.
Didn’t you have a problem with your voice last year?
I had a polyp on my vocal cord, and given the timing of how long it would take to heal and when I was supposed to go back into filming, I had to do the surgery [last spring]. I had to do vocal rest, and I still am having issues on and off.
Has it changed the way you sing?
It’s more within my talking voice that I actually have issues. There are so many people who have severe vocal issues that aren’t necessarily entertainers — like moms of five kids who are having to talk all the time. You never know. So it’s more having to retrain the way I speak than it is the way that I sing.
I’m told you have a performance in the May 2 episode that was inspired by Joan Jett. Has playing Erica broadened your musical interests?
There are certain covers that they’ve had me do on the show that I wouldn’t have taken the time to appreciate had it not been for the show, though I grew up listening to [Jett]. But episodes like the Rush episode, where I never listened to that band before, but now I’m like, “They actually have some good songs.” I wouldn’t say it would inspire my personal musical sound or anything, but I would say it’s broadened what I listen to now.
Hayley Orrantia: Strong, Sweet & Southern
7 p.m. April 26. The Queen.
500 Market Street, Wilmington, Del.