Published Wed, Nov 14, 2012 12:52 pm Dateline
Updated Wed, Nov 14, 2012 1:09 pm
Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Iris DeMent will bring her signature blend of country, gospel and folk to Stuart's Opera House this Friday, Nov. 16 at 8 p.m.
Born in 1961 in rural Arkansas, DeMent was the youngest of 14 children in a devoutly religious family. Although she grew up singing gospel, she immersed herself in country and folk during her teenage years, listening to artists such as Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell.
Somewhat of a late bloomer, DeMent first began composing songs at the age of 25, honing her skills at open-mic nights in Nashville. One early song was "Our Town," later to become a standout track on her debut album Infamous Angel.
Released in 1992 on Rounder Records, Infamous Angel won praise from critics and other artists, such as David Byrne and Natalie Merchant, who covered her song "Let The Mystery Be." "Our Town" was later featured during the farewell scene in the series finale of Northern Exposure.
That album's word-of-mouth success landed DeMent a deal with Warner Bros, which reissued Infamous Angel in 1993. Its follow-up, 1994's My Life, received a Grammy nomination in the Contemporary Folk category.
1996's rock-influenced The Way I Should marked a change, not only in style, but in lyrical content, which addressed political as well as personal matters. A 1999 collaboration with John Prine, In Spite of Ourselves, followed, earning DeMent her third Grammy nod.
In addition to her recorded output, DeMent is familiar to public radio listeners via appearances on A Prairie Home Companion and to film audiences through her role as "Rose Gentry" in the 2000 film Songcatcher.
Apart from recording an album of gospel songs in 2004 (Lifeline, Flariella Records) DeMent has kept a low profile in recent years, raising her young daughter with husband and fellow singer-songwriter Greg Brown.
Last month saw the release of Sing The Delta, her first album of original material in 16 years. She explained the album's long gestation period on her website, www.irisdement.com.
"Some of these songs I’ve had around awhile but I needed time to grow into them," she said. "I guess you could say I just wasn’t ready to deliver them in the way that they deserved. I’m glad I waited. It’s taught me to surrender…to trust the natural flow and order of things and not worry about it."
For more information about Friday's show, visit www.stuartsoperahouse.org.