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”

When Tina Turned the Country On!


The early life of Anna Mae Bullock sounds like the story of a potential country music star – she was raised in rural Tennessee, she worked in the fields, she only listened to country and western on the radio, she spent her childhood singing in church, her parents abandoned her and she raised herself the hard way. However instead of taking the path to the Grand Ole Opry she joined Ike Turner’s rhythm and blues band in St Louis, became Tina Turner and the rest is music history.

In the sixties and early seventies everything about her life was under Ike’s megalomaniacal control – it was his name, his songs, his style, his fist, his way. When Tina released her debut solo album, Tina Turns the Country On! in 1974 this signalled the beginning of her attempt to break with Ike both personally and professionally. While ultimately a commercial failure, the album is a fascinating glimpse into the life and times of one of music’s most successful female performers. Continue reading “When Tina Turned the Country On!”

Bobbie Gentry and the Power of Mystery

‘It was the 3rd of June, another sleepy, dusty, Delta day,’ sings Bobbie Gentry in the opening of her most famous song Ode to Billie Joe, setting the scene for one of music’s most elusive mysteries. This song and the album of the same name is the topic of a book by Tara Murtha in her contribution to the 33 1/3 series about significant albums, published by Bloomsbury. Murtha explores both the recording and release of this album, alongside the life and eventual disappearance of Bobbie Gentry herself. Continue reading “Bobbie Gentry and the Power of Mystery”

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