This month's featured artist is
Karen J. Dalton 19th July 1938- 19th March 1993 was an American folk blues singer and banjo player associated with the early 1960s Greenwich Village folk music scene.
First up some Wikipedia facts: Dalton, whose heritage was Cherokee was born Karen J. Cariker in Enid Oklahoma Her bluesy, world-weary voice is often compared to that of iconic jazz singer Billie Holiday. She sang blues, folk, country, pop,making over each song in her own style. She played the twelve string Gibson guitar and a long neck banjo. Her second album, In My Own Time (1971), was recorded at Bearsville studios, produced by Bob Dylan's former bass player Harvey Brooks, originally released on Michael Lang's (Woodstock promoter) label, Just Sunshine. Less well-known is her first album for Capitol, It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best (1969), re-released by Koch Records in 1996.
Both Dalton's studio albums were re-released in November 2006: It's So Hard To Tell Who's Going To Love You The Best, on the French Megaphone-Music label, included a bonus DVD featuring rare performance footage of Dalton. In My Own Time was re-released on CD and LP on November 7, 2006 by Light In The Attic Records.
Known as "the folk singer's answer to Billie Holiday" and "Sweet Mother K.D.", it is said that the Richard Manuel song "Katie's Been Gone", from The Band's The Basement Tapes, was written about her. She struggled with drugs and alcohol for many years and died in 1993 in New York City after an eight-year battle with Aids.
. It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Best (1969)
. In My Own Time (1971)
. Cotton Eyed Joe (2007) (recorded live in 1962)
. Green Rocky Road (2008)
So why does newsoundwales recommend you investigate her music?
For starters Bob Dylan is a big fan and it would appear that there has never been any-one either before or after quite like her. Comparisons with Janis Joplin, Billie Holiday only capture elements of her vocal ability and range and mirror her tragic lifestyle and premature death. Dalton died in 1993, " but you can see her now on YouTube, standing stock still, long black hair parted in the centre, her lower two front teeth missing, that voice seeming to rise up out of nowhere". "And if she gave any recorded interviews, they're nowhere to be found"
Much of her music sounds incredibly contemporary and has stood the test of time. For instance, if you heard 'Something on your Mind' played at any Nu Folk/Alt folk event I guarantee the DJ would be plagued by people trying to find out who this incredibly exciting new talent was. Sadly it was recorded nearly 40 years ago and she is no longer with us.
There is a lot of information on the net about Karen Dalton and amongst the most interesting and informative is an article written by Laura Barton entitled "The best singer in the world you've never heard of "published in the Guardian in 2007 (1). A second article I found in my google moments was written by Jim Caliguri (2) and also worth reading is a feature by Joel Rose from the NPR music site (3)
In the midst of my searches I inadvertently found out that there is another Karen Dalton out there who is a singer songwriter from Carlisle Pennsylvania who is very much alive and has won awards. She looks more like a Sunday school teacher and I'm pretty sure she don't sing the blues.
All photos are ŠElliott Landy check out his amazing work at:
The Incredible String Band