(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Grammy Award-nominated singer-songwriter Iris DeMent brings her unmistakable soprano and authentic country-folk songs to Club Helsinki Hudson on Saturday, April 20, 2013, at 9 p.m. Had Iris DeMent been making country albums in the ’70s and ’80s and had more commercial ambition, she’d probably now be considered right up there with Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. Instead, she’s lived a contemporary life, a somewhat private life. As she recently told an interviewer, “There’s a lot that goes into life besides songwriting.” And she’s taken her time in composing songs that fit into no genre easily.
DeMent says of that elusive inspirational spark, “I didn’t know when or if I’d make another record. I gave up on trying to steer it or force it and decided to just make myself available in my heart and mind as much as I could and leave the rest up to fate.”
Sixteen years after the last collection of original songs, DeMent released Sing The Delta last fall, presenting twelve self-penned compositions from an artist whose first three albums established her as one of the most beloved and respected writers and singers in American music.
DeMent, the last of 14 children, born in Arkansas and raised in Southern California, grew up immersed in gospel music and traditional country. She was somewhat of a late bloomer as an artist, writing her first song at age of 25. Her first release, Infamous Angel, initially issued on Rounder in 1992 before being picked up by Warner Bros., immediately established her as a promising and talented artist. Its 1994 follow-up, My Life, earned a Grammy nomination in the Contemporary Folk category. Her 1996 album The Way I Should addressed political as well as personal themes and earned a Grammy nomination, as well.
It’s an instinct she’s learned to trust ever since she first sat down to write her first couple of songs at age 25 and found “Our Town” spilling out onto the page. “It was like somebody walked right into that room and said, ‘There you have it, Iris’ — I knew then and there that I had gotten my calling,” she relates. “I had always been taught in church that God, or spirit, if you will, calls us to a life work. I got mine that day. Whether I write one song a year or ten, it doesn’t matter. It’s a ‘knowing’ that I have that hasn’t left me since that day. That’s what I check in with and as long as that’s there, the rest of it doesn’t matter. The time it takes is just the time it takes.”
A frequent guest on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companiion public radio variety show, DeMent has recorded duets with Emmylou Harris, Ralph Stanley, John Prine and Steve Earle. She is married to fellow singer-songwriter Greg Brown.
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