The youngest of 14 children, born in Arkansas and raised in Southern California, Iris DeMent spent her childhood immersed in gospel and traditional country music. Beginning with her 1992 debut, ‘Infamous Angel,’ which was hailed as “an essential album of the 1990’s” by Rolling Stone, Iris DeMent released a series of stellar records that established her as “one of the finest singer-songwriters in America” according to The Guardian. The music earned her multiple Grammy nominations, as well as the respect of peers like John Prine, Steve Earle, and Emmylou Harris, who all invited her to collaborate. Merle Haggard dubbed her “the best singer I’ve ever heard” and asked her to join his touring band, and David Byrne and Natalie Merchant famously covered her “Let The Mystery Be” as a duet on MTV Unplugged. NPR called her “one of the great voices in contemporary popular music” and The Boston Globe hailed her work as “a work of rare, unvarnished grace and power.”
“Iris DeMent makes music that celebrates humanity’s efforts toward salvation, while acknowledging that most of our time on Earth is spent reconciling with the fact that we don’t feel so redeemed. Grounded in hymns, early country songs, gospel and folk, DeMent’s work is treasured by those who know it for its insight and unabashed beauty.” —NPR
For centuries, the desert town of Agadez has served as a converging point for the great camel caravans driven by the Tuareg that link West Africa with North Africa and the Mediterranean. Born in 1980 at a nomadic camp near this dusty outpost, the young guitarist and songwriter Omara “Bombino” Moctar was raised during an era of armed struggles for Tuareg independence and violent suppression by government forces. Bombino’s electrifying jams capture the spirit of resistance and rebellion while echoing with guitar riffs reminiscent of fellow Africans Tinariwen and Ali Farka Touré not to mention rock and blues icons such as Jimi Hendrix, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Page.
Devon Gilfillian fires twin barrels of gospel-blues and Southern soul. Fueled by groove, guitar, and the powerful punch of Gilfillian’s voice with his four-piece band, his songs shine a light on a young songwriter who grew up outside of Philadelphia, absorbing everything from the R&B swagger of Al Green and Ray Charles to the rock & roll heroics of Jimi Hendrix.
Raised by a musical family, Gilfillian grew up singing. He took up the electric guitar at 14 years old, kickstarting a fascination with classic rock and other sounds from an older generation. By the time college rolled around, Gilfillian was playing three-hour shows in a local cover band, performing songs by the Meters one minute and the Beatles the next. The gigs allowed him to explore the full range of his influences, but Gilfillian wanted to play his own music, too. With that in mind, he moved to Nashville, eager to chase down his own muse.
Released in May 2016, the self-titled Devon Gilfillian finds him stepping into the spotlight as a solo artist. Equal parts swampy, funky, and enthralling, the record finds Gilfillian planting one foot in the classic sound of his influences, with the other foot pointing somewhere new and uncharted. After all, he’s no revivalist. No nostalgia act. No retro wannabe. Instead, Gilfillian is a classic artist for the modern age, discovering new life in soulful sounds that have been making people dance for decades.