Personalities | Iris DeMent | Alt. Country & The Bluegrass Revival

(Vocals, guitar, piano, b. 1961)

Iris was the youngest of 14 children in Paragould, Arkansas, and she grew up singing gospel and hillbilly songs in a loud, nasal voice. In 1987 she started writing smart, sharply sketched songs and sang them in her undiluted twang on 1992’s Infamous Angel and 1994’s My Life. Merle Haggard declared her the best singer he had heard in years, and she joined his band as a pianist for a few weeks and for his 1996 album. He recorded two of her songs and she recorded one they co-wrote on The Way I Should, her 1996 album that was as stirring in its denunciation of the now as her first two had been stirring in their evocations of the past. Then DeMent fell silent, due to a divorce and writer’s block. She recorded some Grammy-award-winning duets with John Prine, released an album of old gospel hymns and married noted singer-songwriter Greg Brown.

Styles & Forms | Alt. Country & The Bluegrass Revival
Personalities | Alejandro Escovedo | Alt. Country & The Bluegrass Revival

Source: The Definitive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Country Music, consultant editor Bob Allen


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