When the Savannah Music Festival announced their list of pop/rock shows in February, you might have heard me let out a little gasp when the last band, My Brightest Diamond, was announced. While Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Drive-By Truckers, and Andrew Bird were getting most of the buzz, I started digging back into my memories of an artist who has been at the top of my list for a decade.
I first came to know Shara Worden, aka My Brightest Diamond, from her first two excellent albums under that moniker — 2006’s Bring Me The Workhorse and 2008’s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth — but it wasn’t until I saw her perform live that I truly understood her immense talents. The year was 2009 and I was lucky enough to see The Decemberists debut their rock opera Hazards Of Love at SXSW. It was at the live broadcast of the NPR showcase and I remember the palpable electricity in the air; all of us nestled in the outside music patio at Stubb’s in Austin, curious about how a 17 song rock opera from an indie folk band would play out. Suffice it to say, it remains one of my favorite concert performances of all time and it was Shara Worden who absolutely stole the show in her role as The Queen. Below is a video of “The Queen’s Rebuke” from a performance a few weeks later on the Hazards Of Love tour:
Fast forward six weeks to May of 2009 and the Dark Was The Night benefit concert for the 20th release from the Red Hot Organization at Radio City Music Hall in New York where, once again, Worden owned the stage and stood out among an all-star list of bands and musicians (Dirty Projectors, The National, Sharon Jones, Bon Iver, Feist, etc) for her incredible rendition of Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” (recorded with The National for the Dark Was The Night album). A video of the rehearsal for that performance is below:
Those two stumbled-upon performances from Shara Worden seven years ago, six weeks apart, wildly different and yet equally stirring, cemented My Brightest Diamond in my mind as one of the most dynamic vocal performers of her generation. Worden is classically trained with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance and effortlessly fuses art and baroque pop with classical aplomb while seamlessly mixing in modern techniques. Equally at home in a vivid costume with a full marching band or a minimal artistic silhouette and stripped bare vocals; her live performances are legendary. In addition to her collaborations with The Decemberists and The National, she’s played an integral part in two of Sufjan Stevens albums (and toured extensively as a member of his band) and has worked with David Byrne and many others.
Somehow, in her spare time, she’s managed to release two more albums and two EP’s under the My Brightest Diamond moniker, including 2014’s excellent This Is My Hand whose title track, reimagined in French, has become one of my favorites.
I sit in wild anticipation as to what we can expect from her performance this weekend at Savannah Music Festival and whether her late night show on Friday will differ from her Saturday afternoon performance. I plan to be at both! I promise she will stir your soul and quite possibly blow your mind. Don’t miss this one!
At press time, tickets for both shows were still available.