my brightest diamond - bring me the workhorse

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.:: My Brightest Diamond is Shara Worden, granddaughter of an Epiphone-playing traveling evangelist, fathered by a National Accordion Champion, and mothered by a church organist. Spanish tango, Sunday morning gospel, classical and jazz were the accompaniment to her home life. Her first song was recorded at age three and by age eight she was studying piano and performing in community musical productions.

Shara honed her musical prowess singing along to Whitney Houston music videos and Mariah Carey albums. When pop music wasn’t enough, she enrolled in the music program at the University of North Texas, immersing herself in the songs of Purcell and Debussy. After college, she moved to New York City and fell in love with its cold winters and busy streets. She continued to study opera on the Upper West Side during the day, but at night she frequented downtown clubs such as Tonic, Knitting Factory, and The Living Room, catching performances by Antony & The Johnsons, Nina Nastasia, and Rebecca Moore. She began to spend less time sight-reading Mozart and more time de-tuning her Gibson electric guitar to play her own newly-written songs. Coaxed out of recital halls and onto the small stages of bars and clubs, Shara assembled a coterie of musicians to accompany her with bass and drums, music boxes, wine glasses, and wind chimes.

In performance she showed unusual versatility, channeling the vocal theatrics of Kate Bush, the soulful seductiveness of Nina Simone and the gothic pop of Portishead. Her infatuation with theater and costumes inspired her to wear superhero capes, ball gowns, or Tudor corsets on stage, depending on her mood. Her deeply personal songs transcended the histrionics of opera; Shara was at last singing about what was closest to her heart. She began to see her own music as the most precious gift she could give to the world — as reflected in her namesake, My Brightest Diamond.

Of course, opera never really left her, and Shara’s performance blurred the lines between rock show and recital, setting baroque love songs alongside French carols and Prince covers. Her vocal lines reached for Puccini, but her guitar was pure PJ Harvey. The center of gravity here was the workmanship of a woman whose imagination had no limits. To sharpen her skills, Shara studied composition with Australian composer Padma Newsome (of Clogs) and began to incorporate a string quartet in her live show. The influences of Nat King Cole and Henry Mancini rounded out the edges. A few years later, she met Sufjan Stevens at The Medicine Show, a variety show hosted by New York City’s incendiary poet, Sage, at Arlene’s Grocery. This, in turn, led to a yearlong sabbatical from her work, doing splits and round-offs (not to mention the human pyramid) as one of the notorious Illinoisemakers. Shara was quickly promoted as cheerleading captain.

All of this led to an impressive résumé, but My Brightest Diamond still had no album to show for it. So in 2005, she began work on two records: one featuring songs accompanied by a string quartet (A Thousand Shark’s Teeth), and a more standard rock album featuring a full band (featuring Earl Harvin on drums, Chris Bruce on bass, and, on one song, her father Keith on accordion) titled Bring Me The Workhorse, which will be released in August 2006 on Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Her songs distil stories to their most distressing points of contact: a phone call, an injured horse, a dragonfly caught in a spider’s web. She doesn’t share all the information — just the stuff that matters. The effect is a sensational compression of time, in which an entire event is summarized in a single note. This, of course, is the essence of opera. But My Brightest Diamond is much more than that. There is also the humor one might find in an old TV episode of Wonder Woman or Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Shara’s songs reconcile all the complex emotions found in each of us: she can grieve as comfortably as she can laugh, sometimes in the same breath.

.:: My Brightest Diamond es Shara Worden, nieta de un guitarrista ambulante, hija de un Campeón Nacional de Acordeón y de una organista de iglesia. El tango español, el gospel, la música clásica y el jazz la acompañaron durante toda su infancia. A los ocho estudiaba piano, actuaba en pequeñas comunidades musicales y cantaba en coros, en Michigan, ciudad donde creció. Perfiló su proceso cantando música pop y cuando no fue suficiente inició un programa de estudios musicales en la Universidad del Norte de Texas, inmergiéndose en las canciones de Purcell y Debussy.

Tras su estancia en Texas, se trasladó a Nueva York y continuó estudiando ópera en el Upper West Side durante el día, pero de noche frecuentaba clubs como Tonic, Knitting Factory y The Living Room, asistiendo a conciertos de Antonhy and the Johnsons, Nina Nastasia y Rebeca Moore. De pronto, empezó a pasar menos tiempo leyendo a Mozart y más tiempo con su guitarra Gibson escribiendo sus propias canciones. Convencida por salas de concierto y pequeños escenarios de bares y clubs, Shara reunió a unos cuantos músicos y se hizo acompañar con bajo y batería, cajas de música e instrumentos de viento. En directo mostraba una inusual versatilidad, canalizando la voz teatral de Kate Bush, la seducción de Nina Simone y el pop gótico de Portishead. Sus líneas vocales alcanzaban a Puccini, pero su guitarra era pura PJ Harvey.

Para afilar sus destrezas, estudió composición con el compositor australiano Padma Newsome y empezó a incorporar un cuarteto de cuerda en sus actuaciones. Conoció a Sufjan Stevens en The Medicine Show, un show variado presentado por el poeta incendiario Sage en el Arlene´s Grocery. Esto fue el inicio de un año sabático de su trabajo, acompañando a Sufjan como una Illinoisemaker y convirtiéndose rápidamente en la capitana del equipo. Hasta entonces, My Brightest Diamond no tenía su propio álbum, así que en 2005 empezó a trabajar en dos discos, el primero de ellos es Bring me the workhorse.

Bring me the workhorse junta todos lo elementos esenciales de la música clásica y el pop para crear un álbum que rompe las barreras de ambos mundos, evocando momentos de tremenda alegría y pena con la magnitud de la ópera italiana y la modestia del haiku japonés.

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Anonymous said...

Tremendo disco!!! Realmente me voló la cabeza.
Concuerdo con vos en el parecido a Kate Bush. Tiene un barroquismo incierto, complejo de a ratos pero con elementos muy crudos en otros (esa batería...)
Cómo en los mejores casos de bajar música, ya estoy viendo en Amazon que más hay de esta chica para ir pidiendo.
Muchas gracias y voy a seguir ahora con tu blog porque me parecieron muy buenas las cosas (pocas) que leí hasta ahora.
Abrazo. Chr.

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