SARA TOTH – EDITOR
It’s a week of returns at Chautauqua — two singer-songwriters who made their Amphitheater debuts with Our Native Daughters in 2019 are back on the grounds, and following Amythyst Kiah’s performance Monday, it’s Allison Russell’s turn to venture back to the stage, this time as a special guest of Margo Price.
It’s a full-circle moment for Deborah Sunya Moore, whose Facebook memories this week surprised her with a photo of Our Native Daughters — who performed two years ago to the day Monday — “a quartet of power women who came as an ensemble committed to shining a light on the African-American women’s stories of struggle and hope.”
“That concert sang of resilience, and now both Amythyst and Allison are back with new solo albums that burst of both musical excellence and social activism,” said Moore, senior vice president and chief program officer (interim) and vice president of performing and visual arts. “In a week on empathy, it seems right to have women that have come to grips with struggles and shared them with the world, while all along making music that resonates beyond the singular notes played.”
Russell and Price perform at 8:15 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4 in the Amp, both fresh from stints at the Newport Folk Festival in late July.
Russell is a Nashville-based, Montreal-born Scottish-Grenadian-Canadian writer, musician, composer and producer. She is a founding member of three acclaimed groups — Our Native Daughters, Birds of Chicago and Po’ Girl.
This year saw her nominated for Americana Emerging Act of the Year by Americana Music Association, and the release of her solo debut album, Outside Child, which lays bare a reckoning with her upbringing, including sexual abuse at the hands of her adoptive father.
In a story about Outside Child for The New York Times, Jon Pareles described Russell’s completion of her solo debut as both cathartic and jubilant.
“One of the things that I think we don’t talk about as survivors is the extreme joy that comes when you are over on the other side,” Russell told Pareles. “Part of putting this record out is just wanting to show that there’s a road map. You are not defined by your scars. You are not defined by what you’ve lost. You are not defined by what someone did to you. Yes, that’s a part of the story. That’s a part of who you become. But it doesn’t define you.”
Moore said that Price “comes with her own stories of working to scrape by in order to pay rent and heat the house. She’s a storyteller and an advocate, and she embraces country music not simply for what it is, but for what she is making it.”
Long considered one of East Nashville’s best kept secrets, Price earned international acclaim with the 2016 release of her first solo album, Midwest Farmer’s Daughter, which debuted in the Top 10 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. Her third solo album, That’s How Rumors Get Started, was released last summer — she didn’t perform a single song from it live until May 28, 2021. Lockdown was like “the rug’s been pulled out from under me,” Price told Julia Carmel for “The Pandemic Work Diary of Margo Price” in The New York Times. She had taken time off work after having a baby, and was ready to get back on the road. She instead spent the pandemic working on a memoir and recording two albums.
“I’m a disciple of all things that are close to the ground — roots music, folk, blues, soul,” Price told Carmel. “I want to have enough genres that people can’t exactly put their finger on one thing.”
Earlier this summer, Price released the EP Live from the Other Side, which includes a new version of “Hey Child” (from That’s How Rumors Get Started) and a cover of the Beatles’ “Help” — which was in turn inspired by Tina Turner’s cover of the same song. Price dedicated the EP to Turner.
“Her strength, talent and truth have inspired me endlessly and I loved performing her interpretation of ‘Help’ by The Beatles,” Price wrote in a release accompanying the EP. “I believe in the power to manifest your own destiny, and I offer Tina’s Buddhist mantra to anyone who may need it: ‘Namu Myoho Renge Kyo’ means ‘I honor the Universal Mystical Law of Cause and Effect.’ Take it with you wherever you go and hope to see you down the highway.”