October 3, 2011
New Amsterdam label says, “Beautiful Mechanical, the group’s focused and stunning debut album, features compositions by indie- classical all-stars Annie Clark (St. Vincent) – a piece commissioned by the MusicNOW Festival, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), Ryan Lott (Son Lux), Gabriel Kahane, and New Amsterdam Records co-founders Sarah Kirkland Snider and Judd Greenstein. The compositions are assured and fervent yet tender and humane, the performances delicate yet fiercely virtuosic, making for a cohesive album that stands as a manifesto of what music-making in the 21st century can – and should – be.”
When I first started “A Whistle, A Tune, A Macaroon”, I recorded myself whistling an improvised tune. Then I notated the melody for cello harmonics and began shaping the rest of the tune around it. Written for dancer Jessica Dessner, I imagined her graceful Butoh style movements, and the tune seemed to unfold itself.
September 27, 2011
If you live in the Detroit area and want to be in the next MBD video, please email us with a photo if possible!
mybrightestdiamond at gmail.com
We will be shooting on Saturday, Oct. 8th from 12:30-4:30 in Detroit.
Bring a friend! Bring your grandmother! (we need all ages, shapes and sizes!) Come join the fun!
September 20, 2011
The year 2010 was not the most joyous one for me to get a smart phone and start reading the news. Maybe I was sheltered before, or maybe I was recovering from my own tragedies, so that I couldn’t take in what was happening on a larger scale. But I broke down & traded in my old phone for a screen slider and started to look around. Environmental disasters were in the headlines everyday- a tsunami in Chile, an oil spill in the Gulf, a flood in Pakistan, an image of Adelie penguins hovering over their eggs which were submerged by snowmelt caused by global warming. Human injustices also seemed to increase. The numbers of child sex slavery were astounding. Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo was held under house arrest and not allowed to take the prize awarded for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. In November, the great composer Gorecki died and I remember that weekend clearly, listening to the work and reading the lyrics in his beautiful Symphony No. 3, the lament of a mother who has lost her son in war. In listening to his music, I began weeping over human injustice. This was the context in which I started writing.
At first the song “Be Brave” began with a chant “I do dear Dodo I do dance for you”. Yes, a terrible lyric, but that was the sentiment I was reaching for. I wanted to make my own rain dance, a way of calling upon the gods to bring change. I started researching (and by “research” I mean, watching YouTube) the traditions of prayer dances, watching wise old Cherokee chiefs talk about nature, about our relationship to the earth and to one another. Finally, the lyrics started to come for the song- a lament, a lecture to myself for behavioral change, a demand for bravery and for hard work.
I am a bird in water, a whale on sand, I am the flood, the fire, the oil spill…
August 27, 2011
After meeting on a tv show in Manchester, England, Stateless frontman, Chris James decided to write a duet for Shara. This he did, then hopped on a plane to New York where the two recorded the song “I’m On Fire” and filmed the video, directed by Anne Paas, in a ship graveyard. Yes, there were crabs, spiders and bloodsucking critters, and Shara lost a pair of Wellies, but it was worth it.
Shara said, “Singing with Stateless’ Chris James was a truly effortless musical experience. Rarely do two singers share so much in feeling and phrasing. “
July 13, 2011
We are extremely pleased to announce that on October 18, 2011 in the US (October 10th in the EU) our long-time, much-beloved label, Asthmatic Kitty, will be releasing our 3rd full-length studio recording, All Things Will Unwind.
You may recall that earlier this year we had the honor of being presented by Lincoln Center in their American Songbook series. Most of the songs for this album were born out of the preparations for that concert. Singer Shara Worden composed new music specifically for our friends in the chamber ensemble yMusic.
She set 3 rules:
1) Every sound would be created acoustically.
2) She would play as infrequently as possible.
3) If she did play, the instrument must fit in a suitcase.
The resulting collection of songs demanded proper documentation, so a recording project was conceived. Several more songs were written in order to properly fill out the set, and we committed these sounds into the capable hands of engineer Pat Dillett. Within 21 days, “All Things Will Unwind” was recorded and mixed.
In this collection of tunes you can hear the many changes that have taken place in Shara’s life since 2008′s A Thousand Shark’s Teeth: a move from Brooklyn to Detroit, a new baby boy, a new backyard garden, and a whirlwind of brilliant collaborations with the likes of the Blind Boys of Alabama, The Decemberists, David Byrne, and many others.
Read more info about the album here.
Listen to and download the first single, “Reaching Through to the Other Side,” below:
All of you aspiring DJs can create your very own remix use these stems:
View this song being performed live at Cincinnati’s MusicNOW Festival:
July 1, 2011
My Brightest Diamond will be playing a FREE show for the River to River Festival at Castle Clinton in Battery Park in NYC on July 7th at 7pm. (yes, that’s the 7th day of the 7th month at 7pm.) The most amazing chamber ensemble, yMusic , will be joining Shara & drummer Brian Wolfe, to perform the new MBD album from top to bottom, as well as playing three instrumental pieces that Shara composed for yMusic & dancer Jessica Dessner. Did we mention this show is FREE???
Here’s a review of the MusicNow concert earlier this year.
March 17, 2011
New Amsterdam Records welcomes singer-songwriters Shara Worden (of My Brightest Diamond) and Clare Muldaur Manchon (of Clare and the Reasons), along with indie-classical multi-instrumentalist/composer Rob Moose, as collaborators in the enchanted and melancholy Letters to Distant Cities, a multi-media project curated and produced by photographer and videographer Murat Eyuboglu, exploring urban solitude through the poetry of Turkish-American poet, Mustafa Ziyalan.
The album will be re-created in a multi-media release event featuring live performances by Worden, Moose, and Manchon, as well as readings of the poetry in the original Turkish by Ziyalan with English readings of the translations by Worden, and a video for two of the album’s songs (The Sea and Invisible), produced by Eyuboglu and edited by David Sarno (videos available online only). To round out the evening, Worden and Manchon will perform a few extra tunes of their own, not included on the album.
In addition to the CD, the album package includes a set of 24 pristine keepsake cards, comprising a photographic illustration for each of Zilayan’s poems collected on the recording. The images were captured by project visionary Murat Eyuboglu with model Jamie Ansley. Designer Adam Frint brings musical, poetic, and photographic elements together, creating a physical connection to the album’s sense of memorabilia.
Monday, March 21
The powerHouse Arena
37 Main Street (corner of Water & Main St)
$10 at the door
For more information, please call (718) 666-3049
March 17, 2011
An audio recording of the March 16th concert at Merkin Concert Hall is archived on the WQXR website. Listen here! The event was hosted by John Schaefer of WNYC’s Soundcheck and will be re-broadcast at a later date on Schaefer’s program New Sounds Live. Hooray for public radio!!!
March 14, 2011
On Wednesday, March 16th, Shara will be performing a two-fold concert as part of the Ecstatic Music Festival at Merkin Hall (129 west 67th Street) in New York City. The first half of the evening will comprise new works composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider, as well as selections from her song-cycle entitled, Penelope. The second half of the concert will feature the World Premiere of 3 instrumental works that the Kaufman Center commissioned Shara to compose especially for this festival. In addition to these commissioned works, audience members will hear the 10 songs to be embodied on the next album from Shara & Co. All of these works will feature Shara singing with accompaniment from yMusic.
March 2, 2011
Someone wrote to me recently asking how they could give money to me for an album they had downloaded from a friend, but they didn’t want to give money to “the man”. They wanted to give the money directly to me. I certainly appreciated the letter and the thought. In the words of my friend Annie Clark, “Mama gotta pay the mortgage.” And that’s true. I’m trying to have a home and a family and do what I love, just like most people. It’s a hussle, trying to make ends meat for everyone these days, artists and architects alike. That ain’t news. But what is frustrating to me today, is this idea of record labels being bad guys, particularly that my record label, Asthmatic Kitty would get lumped in with the rest. Someone on the radio was going on and on about this the other day as well, and it made my blood boil. Seriously people. That is so old skool. Well, what do I know? I was never on a major. But I did put three albums out on my own before My Brightest Diamond and it was crazy difficult. I’m still paying off those loans. That is too much information, but I’m trying to make a point. I did it on my own and it’s really really really really hard to work alone. Some people can do the fully independent thing well, but that wasn’t the way it was for me. It was incredibly ineffective and completely unsustainable for me.
I’m thinking about this business stuff as I am going into the studio again to record a new album, and it wouldn’t be happening without the support of Asthmatic Kitty. ”Workhorse” and “Shark’s Teeth” wouldn’t exist either. So if you want to stick it to someone, stick it to the folks you KNOW are doing something unjust, not to a little independent label who faithfully put out good weird stuff. Every dime you spend communicates what is important to you. Just think about which “man” you are supporting when you “vote” with your money and when it comes to me, I just want to say that Asthmatic Kitty ain’t no “man” to rail against. I don’t want to write music with the hopes of it getting in some stupid commercial. I want to write music for its own sake and so do most artists I know. In the words of Laurie Anderson, “Art is for curiosity”. It needs no other purpose besides what is inherent in the music itself, nor does it exist to necessarily make the world a better place, nor is it always there to entertain us. Music is a never ending challenge. It is a mirror of the human experience. It is as infinite as Spirit. Three cheers to a record label that supports that. Three cheers to you for being here, and caring and considering and being patient in reading my rant, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting my work in whatever way you have. I am living my dream. Thank you.
Sorry for the soapbox. Just thought I’d let you know where I stand.
January 22, 2011
MBD, together with yMusic, dropped by WNYC’s studios last week to record some tunes for Studio 360 with Kurt Anderson. The show will air this coming week. Check here to find out if/when your local NPR affiliate broadcast’s Studio 360. In the event that you miss the broadcast, you can download or stream it below. There are a couple of cool little videos of the session as well.
December 14, 2010
Ladies and Gentleman, I give you big windows by Lincoln Center. It has long been a dream of mine to play a concert in this room for The American Songbook Series, and the day is quickly approaching. I scramble to write lots of new songs and new arrangements for the fantastic ensemble yMusic – a group that includes my long time collaborator and MBD violinist Rob Moose. I stare at this picture on my desktop every day to keep me motivated.
What’s all the fuss about? Well, I guess this show is very personal for me because of what it represents. I started out on a path (18 years ago, heh hum) to be an opera singer and granted I was not the picture of perfect opera singer as I skated in late to opera class on rollerblades with my baggy skater pants. But hey, I had ambitions and a deep love for Ravel and Debussy. Nothing has really changed I guess, except that I realized I like to write songs more than I like to do just about anything else. It’s the instant gratification that suckers me. 15 minutes – 15 hours of hard work and then you got something tangible, something that exists where something didn’t exist before. I still feel like a punk and a lover of storytelling and big costumes. So this show feels like coming to Lincoln Center, but coming in my own way, a wandering and sometimes dizzying path, but this feels good.
So what’s on the program? Well, I have a new 30 minutes of music which focuses on yMusic – that’s violin, viola, cello, flute, clarinet and trumpet! The other half of the program will be the old jams of My Brightest Diamond with Ted Poor on drums and Nathan Lithgow on bass and of course yMusic will toodle-doo along! Hopefully we will rock your seated butts off.
I know these tickets are a lot, but I can promise a really beautiful punk show for you that I have worked for three months to prepare. I hope you can come.
October 8, 2010
photo by Murat Eyuboglu
On October 18th, at (le) Poisson Rouge in NYC, Shara will be performing the music of Sarah Kirkland Snider backed by yMusic, a six piece chamber ensemble with violinist Rob Moose at the helm (you remember the guy playing violin on every MBD album? yeah, that’s him!).
The album, entitled Penelope (which officially will be released on New Amsterdam Records on October 26th) is a 60-minute song cycle composed by Snider for Worden and the orchestral group, Signal, based on texts by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, derived from the music theater piece of the same name she and Snider wrote together in 2007-2008.
The songs loosely tell a story: A woman’s husband appears at her door after an absence of 20 years, suffering from brain damage. A veteran of a modern war, he doesn’t know who he is and she doesn’t know who he’s become. While they wait together for his return to himself, she reads him Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey, and in the journey of that book, she finds a way into her former husband’s memory and the terror and trauma of war.
July 23, 2010
Constantine Jamesson Worden was born on 19 July 2010 at 10:58pm. He weighed a healthy 9lbs 4oz. (4.2kg) and was 21 inches (53.3cm) long. Mother and son are both happy and healthy!
During her long labor the first song Shara needed to hear was Clare and The Reasons song, “You Got Time”. She played the song on repeat… for a looooooooong time. Other artists on the labor playlist were The Living Sisters, Led Zepplin, and Renee Fleming. The lyric’s from Tim Fite’s sing along song “Burn it down” were changed to “baby come on down down down, down down down, please come on down!” and finally after the midwife told Shara that she had to push like she really wanted that baby to come, she cranked Prince’s “The Beautiful Ones” and sang “I want you!!! baby baby baby I want you! Yes I do!”. After 24 hours of labor, Shara and her midwives peacefully came to the conclusion that her big boy needed to be delivered by c-section. After the delivery, the surgeon asked Shara if she had anything to sing and from the operating table came a happy, though quiet refrain of the Hallelujah chorus.
Baby Constantine’s favorite band is, of course, The Constantines.
June 23, 2010