BONUS TRACKS: Rhiannon Giddens’ Opera, New Country Hall of Fame Inductees, RIP Bob Neuwirth
Rhiannon Giddens (photo by Ebru Yildiz)
The Country Music Hall of Fame has announced the next round of additions to its roster. Inducted in the Class of 2022 will be Keith Whitley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and longtime RCA Nashville leader and Country Music Association board member Joe Galante. An induction ceremony will be held this fall. Read more about each of the new members in coverage from The Tennessean. The announcement comes a couple of weeks after an emotional ceremony for the 2021 Hall of Fame additions, which included The Judds just one day after Naomi Judd passed away unexpectedly.
Bob Neuwirth died this week at age 82. He never achieved the household-name status that some of the people he influenced did — including Bob Dylan, Patti Smith, and Janis Joplin — but everyone knows his work. He co-wrote Joplin’s “Mercedes Benz” and introduced her to “Me and Bobby McGee,” written by his friend Kris Kristofferson. He was all over the Dylan tour documentary Don’t Look Back and along for the Rolling Thunder Revue tour as well. Decades later, he emceed the Great High Mountain tour inspired by O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and through it all he was a noted painter as well. “He was a generous instigator who often produced and made things happen anonymously,” his family said in a statement announcing his death. “The art is what mattered to him, not the credit. He was an artist, a mentor and a supporter to many.” Read more about Neuwirth in this remembrance from Rolling Stone.
In the wake of some serious incidents and a UK report saying two-thirds of women are worried about sexual harassment at music festivals and nearly a third had actually experienced it, more than 100 British fests have signed a pledge to counter the problem. The Safer Spaces charter asks signees to promise that “all allegations of sexual harassment, assault and violence will be taken seriously, acted upon promptly and investigated.” The campaign also provides messaging, resources, and best practices for festivalgoers and organizers. Read more in this story from NME. (There are similar efforts, including from Calling All Crows, in the US.)
NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest bestowed its very big annual honor this week, crowning Boston singer-songwriter Alisa Amador its 2022 winner. Watch her perform her winning song, “Milonga accidental,” and learn more about Amador here.
Rhiannon Giddens will premiere an opera she co-wrote next Friday at the Spoleto Festival USA in Charleston, South Carolina. Omar is based on the life of enslaved Muslim scholar Omar Ibn Said, who was brought to Charleston from Africa in 1807. “My work as a whole is about excavating and shining a light on pieces of history that not only need to be seen and heard, but that can also add to the conversation about what’s going on now,” Giddens said in a statement. “This is a story that hasn’t been represented in the operatic world — or in any world.” The LA Opera will perform Omar starting this fall, to be followed by the Lyric Opera in Chicago, the Boston Lyric Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Carolina Performing Arts at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Giddens composed Omar with Michael Abels, a composer known for his work on Jordan Peele’s films, including Get Out and Us. This week, Nonesuch Records released a song from the opera titled “Julie’s Aria,” performed by Giddens, Bill Frisell, and Francesco Turrisi. Read more about Omar in this piece in The New York Times.
WHAT WE’RE LISTENING TO
Here’s a sampling of the songs, albums, bands, and sounds No Depression staffers have been into this week:
Adia Victoria – “In the Pines,” exclusively on Bandcamp with proceeds going to the Carolina Abortion Fund
The Watson Twins feat. Butch Walker – “Two Timin’”
Kevin Morby – This Is a Photograph
Victoria Bailey – “Rider in the Rain”
Willie Nelson – A Beautiful Time
She & Him – “Darlin’” (Beach Boys cover), from their new album, Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson, coming in July
Crys Matthews – “Changemakers,” named International Folk Music Awards’ Song of the Year at this week’s Folk Alliance International conference (read our awards coverage here)
Early James – “What a Strange Time to Be Alive,” from his new album, Strange Time to Be Alive, coming in August
The Kernal feat. Caitlin Rose – “The Fight Song”
Larkin Poe – “Bad Spell,” from their new album, Blood Harmony, coming in November
Ibeyi – Spell 31
Emmylou Harris and Allison Russell – “The Sweetest Gift” from the TV special Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration