A Singer Worth A Thousand Words

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

This coming Sept. 11, many people will surely be reflecting upon what it means to be American and on the culture and traditions that have shaped this country. One area of American culture that is especially rich is its musical heritage. From traditional folk music to cowboy songs, bluegrass and country the genres of music collectively known as Americana provide listeners with a varied palette of experiences and stories of the American way of life.

It is entirely fitting, then, that on this Sept. 11, one of the rising stars of American folk/roots music will be performing in our area. Caroline Herring originally hails from Canton, Miss., and currently resides in Austin, Texas, where she is receiving rave reviews for her debut CD, "Twilight". Backed by some of Austin's best musicians, she is on a nationwide tour, which includes two dates in the Bay Area.

Herring actually began her journey to the Texas music scene in Oxford, Miss., where she was pursuing a master's degree in Southern folklore. A bluegrass band named the Sincere Ramblers, which featured Herring on vocals, guitar and mandolin, became the house band on "The Thacker Mountain Radio Show" an old-time variety program featuring sketches and musical items.

As a result, she was brought into contact with many top musicians who, recognizing her talent, encouraged her to move to Texas and pursue a career in music.

On completion of her degree, Herring decided to follow the advice she had been given and relocated to Austin. "I'd had several friends from Mississippi who had come out here and said so many great things about the music scene," she said.

Ostensibly her move to Texas was for graduate school, but within months she had established herself on the music scene and was performing both as an opening act for better-known artists and at her own shows.

Now, Herring is a nationally touring performer who released her first CD, "Twilight," in January. "Twilight" is a beautiful piece of work, 11 tracks of true Americana falling stylistically somewhere between bluegrass, folk and country.

Herring's voice and delivery complement her lyrics perfectly, painting pictures of Southern life, love, history and heartache with honesty many performers could only aspire to. Her backing band is impressive yet unobtrusive, providing sensitive, understated backing to the songs.

If her debut album is anything to go by Herring should have a long and successful career ahead of her.

"Actually" she said, "it's a pretty great honor to think I could establish a career in writing and singing. I'm floored, but I'm really excited about it." Modest words from a talented lady.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, September 5th 2002

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