Lucy Negro Redux: Art, Agency, Love, & Lust

Every artistic form has the potential, on its own, to be both transformative and transcendent. So what happens when an alchemist pours three forms together? A piece of work that is so deeply profound, unyielding, and exalted that words inevitably fail to convey its power. Meet the Nashville Ballet’s Lucy Negro Redux. The ballet’s artistic […]

Bluegrass Underground: Brandi Carlile Rocks the Rock

For nearly a decade, Bluegrass Underground has invited artists and fans to experience the joy of music together … underground. The Caverns, located at the foot of Monteagle Mountain in Pelham, Tennessee, plays host to both the Emmy Award-winning PBS program and other shows from March to December. Todd Mayo, owner of the Caverns and creator of Bluegrass Underground, […]

Brandi Carlile: The Work, In Progress

“A lot of times, as artists, we don’t write about what we’re good at; we write about what we struggle with,” Brandi Carlile confesses, then adds with a laugh, “I think I tend to write a lot about forgiveness because I’m quite judgmental. I’m a work in progress.” As evidenced in that thesis statement and […]

Emily Saliers: Back to Her Roots

It was 30 years ago that Emily Saliers and Amy Ray released their debut album, Strange Fire, as the Indigo Girls. They’d been playing music together for a few years, at that point, and Saliers for much longer, on her own. The daughter of a theologian, Saliers grew up in a predominantly African-American neighborhood in […]

Melissa Etheridge: Still Brave, Not So Crazy

“If you look back to history, you’ll see they all came from the same place,” Melissa Etheridge says, explaining the roots of American music’s myriad genres. “They all came from the same musical movement in the South, from Appalachian music to the blues coming out of the freed slaves in the early 19th century, and […]

Chely Wright: From the Heart

The 2010s have been a big dang deal in the life of Chely Wright. She kicked off the decade by coming out in a very public way with a huge media blitz supporting an autobiography (Like Me) and an album (Lifted Off the Ground), as well as the related LikeMe Foundation. Over the next few […]

k.d. lang: Flawless, Fearless

It wasn’t the first time I heard k.d. lang’s voice that carved out a forever place for her in my heart. It was the first time I saw a photo of her for, in it, I saw a reflection of who I was or, more likely, who I wanted to be. It was 1990, maybe […]

The Singular Sensation of Ani DiFranco

Over the course of her more than 25 years of making music, Ani DiFranco has been widely celebrated and often emulated. The trouble is, DiFranco’s work is a moving target which words and imitation fail miserably in hitting. She would argue — and has — that hers is a living, breathing body of performance art […]

Heather McEntire Splits the Difference

When you’re born and raised in the South as singer/songwriter Heather McEntire was, being queer demands certain virtues because that singular incarnation is far from a simple proposition. Asked to sum up the experience in a few words, McEntire says, “Complicated. Revolutionary, frankly.” She laughs, then adds, “Brave. I also like that the visibility is […]

Sarah Dashew: A World of Music

Somewhere between sailing around the world as a child and living in Austin as an adult, Sarah Dashew found her musical voice. And, as evidenced on her new album, Roll Like a Wheel, that voice draws its water from myriad wells. “I started singing in a gospel choir in college,” Dashew says, attempting to organize […]

June Millington Crosses Another Bridge

When mention is made of all-female bands, most references usually cite the Bangles, the Go-Gos, and the Runaways. Rarely do they trace the footsteps all the way back to Fanny (or its predecessor, the Svelts) overlooking a key moment in the history of rock chicks. So, it’s a story guitarist/songwriter — and Fanny founder — […]

The Orphan Brigade: Soundtrack to a Ghost Story

“Everyone loves a good ghost story,” producer Neilson Hubbard says, explaining the rhymes and reasons behind his latest project, The Orphan Brigade: Soundtrack to a Ghost Story. “People seem fascinated. People want to know more about it. I think that is the same way we got hooked into the project. You get drawn in by […]

Sweet Freedom: Jason Isbell Hits His Stride

Although its neighbors to the north in Tennessee get more ongoing acclaim, the upper reaches of Alabama have a deep, rich musical history tucked within their borders. The Muscle Shoals scene alone shaped the sound of artists ranging from Aretha Franklin to Lynyrd Skynyrd, from Bob Dylan to Wilson Pickett. Somewhere in the middle of […]

Karmen Buttler’s Path of Passion

Sacramento native Karmen Buttler grew up in, essentially, the Partridge family — minus the bus. Her grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles… everyone had musical inclinations, if not outright talent. So it seemed quite natural that a 9-year-old Buttler would join the school band and, eventually, start writing songs as a young teen. Buttler marked another major […]

Michelle Malone: 30 Years On

As part of the Atlanta music scene that yielded the Indigo Girls, Shawn Mullins, Sugarland, and John Mayer, singer/songwriter Michelle Malone has come a long way, musically speaking, since making her 1988 debut. “When I started, we all did it because it was a stepping stone to the next level,” she recalls. “Amy [Ray] and […]

The Real Deal: Whitey Morgan and the 78’s

Country music fans, perhaps more than those of other genres, suffer from a sentimentality disorder. No matter their generation, they long for the good old days when country was country. They want nothing to do with pop-country or bro-country or any other hyphenated outcropping of the form. If it ain’t Cash, Haggard or some other […]

Ashley Monroe Is On to Something

Throughout its history, country music has found itself at a crossroads where opposing forces want to push its boundaries with one hand and limit them with the other. That’s certainly the case these days. So, what should a contemporary traditionalist like singer/songwriter Ashley Monroe do? Follow the lead of their musical heroes and keep it […]

The Indigo Girls: Time Makes a History of Us

Even as the internet pulls citizens of the world closer together, issues push us further apart. At the heart of both matters are the ideas of connectedness and commonality. Whether a community is online or on the ground, the age-old search for belonging continues to be a driving force in society. We all want to […]

Alabama Shakes Give It All Away

In case you don’t know the story of the Alabama Shakes’ meteoric rise to glory, it all started when Brittany Howard approached Zac Cockrell in an East Limestone High School psychology class about jamming together. She played guitar and sang; he played bass. Soon enough, they added drummer Steve Johnson and, later, guitarist Heath Fogg. […]

The Hard-Won Happiness of Brandi Carlile

While it’s true that girls with guitars are far from an endangered species, every now and then, one comes along that is truly special. That happened in 2005, when Brandi Carlile announced her arrival with an eponymous debut. Carlile is the whole package — a singer, a songwriter, an entertainer, an activist, and, yes, a […]

It’s All Good for Kate Pierson

It’s hard to believe that the B-52s will mark their 40th anniversary next year. With one of the most recognizable voices in any generation floating atop some of the most classic novelty songs in all of music, one of the band’s founding members, Kate Pierson, long ago carved out her place in the pop pantheon. […]

Meghan Trainor Is More Than Playing

Listening to Meghan Trainor, it is hard to believe she hails from Nantucket, Massachusetts. It is easy to believe, though, that she only recently turned 21. The Grammy-nominated pop singer and songwriter gushes with youthful exuberance over the phenomenal success she has had in the past nine months. Indeed, 2014 was quite a year for […]

Brandi Carlile: More to the Story

Most singers blessed with robust voices these days are content to fly their melodies as high and wide as possible, forsaking the song for the histrionics and allowing auto-tune to do the rest with no real craft to be found anywhere in the process. But, for Brandi Carlile, her voice is the instrument through which […]

Let Freedom Sing: At the Top of Their Lungs

“All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship.” – George Bernard Shaw As the 1990s rolled in, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continued to employ […]

Let Freedom Sing: A Change Is Trying to Come

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” – Harry S. Truman […]

The Autumn of Annie Lennox

Although their first album, 1981’s In the Garden, didn’t catch on fire, the Eurythmics lit the world all the way up with their second strike, 1983’s Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This). And, for the past 30-something years, Annie Lennox has continued to prove herself worthy of our collective adoration and admiration for her work […]

Video Premiere: Indigo Girls – “Elizabeth”

Over the past couple of months, the Indigo Girls have released the first seven videos in an eight-part series filmed backstage at the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles this summer. Those pieces have found Amy Rayand Emily Saliers discussing their personal best songs (“Share the Moon” and “She’s Saving Me,” respectively), performing with Joan Baez […]

Focus On: Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn

What happens when two greats join forces? Well, in the case of Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn, a whole lot of banjo playing. For their eponymous duo album, Fleck says the main conceit was that “it would just be the two of us all the way” — and not just in the studio. They also […]

The Capaciousness of Butterfly Boucher

Australian singer/songwriter Butterfly Boucher is one of those rare talents who can play pretty much any instrument you put in front of her which is exactly what she did on Flutterby, her 2004 debut — she sang and played almost every note on the record, save drums and cello. One critic called the effort a […]

The Power of Linda Perry

Linda Perry doesn’t give a fuck. Actually, she does. She gives a fuck about a lot of things, but what other people think isn’t one of them. An artistic powerhouse and Renaissance woman, Perry exploded onto the scene 25 years ago as the front woman for 4 Non Blondes. Their iconic “What’s Up?” would be […]

Bridging the Cultural Divide: Perla Batalla

Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Perla Batalla has enjoyed an incredibly varied career. Not only has she performed on some of the world’s greatest stages, including Carnegie Hall, the Sydney Opera House and the Kennedy Center, but Batalla has also performed with some of the world’s greatest artists, such as Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Laurie Anderson and, perhaps […]

Korby Lenker Gets to the Truth of "If I Prove False"

Singer/songwriter Korby Lenker has to be one of the hardest-working, most all-around creative guys in Nashville. In addition to releasing an album earlier this year, Lenker also just published his first book of short stories, Medium Hero, and is relaunching a live performance web series, Wigby. Still, when he needed a video for his “If […]