‘This is Real. This is Me.’ Kacey Musgraves on her career and new exhibition ‘All of the Colors’

Welcome to my TED talk on how awkward I am,’ said Kacey Musgraves in typically self-deprecating style at the beginning of her interview for the new exhibition honouring her career at the Country Music Hall of Fame. All of the Colors, lives up to its name with an array of stunning artefacts and costumes from across her life and career.

Continue reading “‘This is Real. This is Me.’ Kacey Musgraves on her career and new exhibition ‘All of the Colors’”

Bobbie Gentry: Fashion Icon

Growing up in the Mississippi Delta gave Bobbie Gentry a deeply rooted sense of place which she channelled into her lyrics and music. What perhaps is less documented is her time as a young model in California. Work like this may be dismissed by some as inconsequential or superficial even but for Bobbie this must have given her some insight into how to use her own image for maximum effect. In her songwriting Gentry created characters and painted pictures of Southern life. She extended this attention to detail by designing many of the clothes she wore for her album covers and live shows. Gentry’s personal beauty and style helped to sell her music, long before social media and branding ever was even thought of. Continue reading “Bobbie Gentry: Fashion Icon”

Music Book Club: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’

In 1965 aged just 20 Linda Ronstadt left behind her Arizona home and headed off to Los Angeles in the hope of becoming a success on the folk music scene. The night she left her father took gave her a gift of a Martin acoustic guitar and told her what his Mexican father had once said to him: “Ahora que tienes guitarra, nunca tendras hambre” (Now you own a guitar you will never go hungry). Those words would prove true. Ronstadt’s long and illustrious career is explored in Simple Dreams, her excellent self-penned memoir which takes us from the deserts of her childhood, to her chart success and beyond. Continue reading “Music Book Club: Linda Ronstadt’s ‘Simple Dreams’”

Music Book Club: ‘Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe’ by Gayle F. Wald

Before I started reading ‘Shout, Sister, Shout’ I’m ashamed to admit that I knew almost nothing about Sister Rosetta Tharpe, except that she was important, influential but ultimately overlooked by music history. In this biography Gayle F. Wald, a professor at George Washington University, explores her subject in an academic but accessible style. Such respect and consideration of this remarkable woman and her music career has been long overdue. Continue reading “Music Book Club: ‘Shout, Sister, Shout! The Untold Story of Rock-And-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe’ by Gayle F. Wald”

Why Thelma Houston’s ‘Sunshower’ Still Shines

In the late sixties Jimmy Webb had just written Wichita Lineman for Glen Campbell when he began working with Thelma Houston, a woman he declared to be ‘the most prodigious talent I have ever encountered.’ Now mainly remembered for her disco hit Don’t Leave Me This Way, Thelma Houston’s performance on the Sunshower album shows a singer of distinctive depth, who was willing to experiment with style and genre. Webb’s music was a mix of gospel flourishes, lush orchestral arrangements and yes even a hint of country music. This album remains an underrated and overlooked classic which displays the ambitious nature of both songwriter and singer. Continue reading “Why Thelma Houston’s ‘Sunshower’ Still Shines”

On ‘Libba’ & How Folk Musician Elizabeth Cotten Inspired Laura Veirs

Acclaimed singer songwriter Laura Veirs is a longtime fan of the music of Elizabeth Cotten, the folk musician known as ‘Libba’, who is the subject of her beautiful picture book published by Chronicle Books. Cotten’s story is astonishing – a self taught guitarist who was only discovered in later life due to an unexpectedly wonderful twist of fate. Continue reading “On ‘Libba’ & How Folk Musician Elizabeth Cotten Inspired Laura Veirs”

Presenting Tammy Wynette: The World’s Most Broken Heart

Released in 1976 Tammy Wynette’s fifteenth album ‘Til I Can Make It On My Own’ includes some of her best vocal performances (the title track was Tammy’s personal favourite song to sing) but also features the overlooked gem The World’s Most Broken Heart, a song whose lyrics now seem to be a concise commentary on her own life and method acting singing style.  Continue reading “Presenting Tammy Wynette: The World’s Most Broken Heart”

When Motown Went Country: The Supremes Sing Country, Western & Pop

The Supremes Sing Country, Western & Pop, released in 1965, is a fascinating glimpse into the musical history of America and the business ambition of Motown records itself. This album mixes country covers with original songs and shows that no matter the genre the harmonies of Diana Ross, Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard reigned supreme (sorry I had to) over all the other girl groups of the era.  Continue reading “When Motown Went Country: The Supremes Sing Country, Western & Pop”

Dee Dee Warwick & Erma Franklin: Forgotten Sisters of Soul

The history of music is littered with lost treasures once overlooked and out of circulation, now easily rediscovered through the internet. None are more deserving of your time and ears than two women, who by fate or chance, have always lingered in the shadows of their more successful sisters. Dee Dee Warwick and Erma Franklin both came from talented musical families and found the path of their careers strikingly similar in their struggles for success. Continue reading “Dee Dee Warwick & Erma Franklin: Forgotten Sisters of Soul”

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