roots reimagined

My Brightest Diamond: Reclaiming Detroit

Shara Worden — the musician behind My Brightest Diamond – is an inspiration. The following video is, at once, a preview to her new record All Things Will Unwind (out on Tuesday, October 18) and a declaration of roots. As she explains, in the last year, she’s changed residences. She moved from New York to Detroit, and is working to rebuild a community that has been floundering for decades alongside the dramatically declining auto industry there. She’s doing so by becoming a resident: She’s purchased and fixed up an abandoned home there, she’s raising a family (Shara and her husband recently had a baby boy), making meaningful connections with the people in her neighborhood, and infusing it all with her music.

I first saw Shara on PBS singing back-up with Sufjan Stevens in his Austin City Limits performance several years ago. There was something about her that shone above Sufjan’s already bright Illinois-ian performance. I looked her up, got her first record and found myself at a solo My Brightest Diamond performance soon after. Shara played through several of the tracks on Bring Me the Workhorse, masterfully using strangely tuned and altered guitars. But there was something else. The set was a theatrical performance. She acted out the songs with her hands and body and eyes and–most of all–her voice. I was absolutely charmed.  Since then, I’ve seen her as often as possible — playing with props and hand-puppets, dressed as a swan in Bryce and Aaron Dessner’s The Long Count, and most recently in a five-song performance with costumes and props and dancing where she previewed new material here in Champaign-Urbana at our biennial Ellnora Guitar Festival with very few guitars at all.  From what I’ve heard, All Things Will Unwind captures that same theatrics and sense of movement through the aurality of emotive, vocal euphony and stunning orchestrations and arrangements. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it.

Update! NPR just posted a first listen of the record here. Check it out!

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