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Bio

 

Martha Redbone is one of today’s most vital voices in American Roots music. A multi award-winning musician, the charismatic songstress is celebrated for her tasty gumbo of roots music embodying the folk and mountain blues sounds of her childhood in the Appalachian hills of Kentucky mixed with the eclectic grit of her teenage years in pre-gentrified Brooklyn. With the power of her gospel singing African-American father’s voice and the determined spirit of her Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw mother, Redbone broadens all boundaries of Americana. Her latest CD, The Garden of Love- Songs of William Blake, produced by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band founder/Grammy Winner John McEuen is an unexpected twist – “a brilliant collision of cultures” (New Yorker)features Martha's magnificent voice, Blake's immortal words and a masterful cornucopia of roots music (folk, country, Piedmont blues, gospel, bluegrass, soul and traditional Southeastern Native American).

 

Redbone and her long-term collaborator, pianist Aaron Whitby are called “the little engine that could” by their “band of NYC’s finest blues and jazz musicians” (Larry Blumenthal-Wall Street Journal). From grassroots beginnings with residencies at the original Living Room NYC, then Joe’s Pub and nationallyat powwows across Indian Country in support of her debut album, Home of the Brave –  “Stu

nning album, the kind of woman who sets trends” (Billboard) – Redbone has built a passionate fan base with her mesmerizing presence and explosive live shows. Her album Skintalk is described as the soulful sound of “Earth, Wind and Fire on the Rez”(Native Peoples Magazine) and is recognized as an example of Contemporary Native American music in the Library Collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

 

The Redbone/Whitby team’s newest work is Bone Hill - The Concert, a devised, interdisciplinary musical theater work that brings to light an important piece of American history that has never been told. Inspired by the lives of Redbone’s family in the hills of coal-mining Appalachia, Bone Hill - The Concert is the journey of a woman, Red, returning to her homeland in Black Mountain and the coalmines of Kentucky where her family has dwelled for centuries. As a contemporary multi-racial Cherokee/Shawnee and African American family, they are permanently bonded to their culture, identity and the mountain despite its violent past and the ever-changing laws of the land that attempt to extinguish them. Commissioned by Joe’s Pub and the Public Theater NY Voices, Redbone is a recipient of the NEFA National Theater Project Creation and Touring Grant and National Performance Network Creation Fund and Lincoln Center. In addition to “Bone Hill: The Concert”, the Redbone/Whitby team have completed commissions for "Plurality of Privacy" project for the New York Theater Workshop, and are contributing composers for "Primer for a Failed Superpower" directed by Rachel Chavkin. In August 2018 the team composed music for “Other Side of the Mountain/Flood in the Valley”, an East-meets-West play for the Liangshan Theater Project in Sichuan, China–collaborating with the Yi minority– a mountain people, making connections between the Nuosu and Indigenous/African American mountain cultures. Redbone is a 2015/16 Fellow of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation.

 

 Cultural Preservation and Mentorship Through Music 

Alongside her career as a recording artist and songwriter Martha Redbone has maintained a steady involvement with causes she believes in. Ms. Redbone is contracted by The Department of Indian Education- Louisiana, LaFourche Parish and teaches Southeastern Traditional Singing Workshop for the United Houma Nation’s Bayou Healers Cultural Enrichment Camp program.

Martha guest lectures on subjects ranging from Indigenous rights to the role of the arts in politics and Native American Identity at many institutions including New York University, the University of Michigan and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, to name a few. Redbone includes workshops and motivational talks with grade school children as part of her touring schedule on numerous reservations including Red Lake, MN, Cherokee, NC, Yuma AZ and Menominee, WI, among others. An exemplary ambassador for both Native and African-American Youth for the National HIV/Aids Partnership, she was awarded the Red Ribbon Award for Outstanding Leadership presented on World AIDS Day at the United Nations in 2005. After Hurricanes Katrina and Rita ravaged the communities of the United Houma Nation on the Gulf Coast, Martha single-handedly helped generate publicity that raised over $30,000. Redbone also performed with Bonnie Raitt and the late Floyd Red Crow Westerman and helped raise over $130,000 in scholarships for the Heart of the Earth Foundation where 12 outstanding Native American students who have overcome adversity receive full tuition to study in higher education. Currently Martha advocates for Why Hunger’s Artists Against Hunger and Poverty program which raises and awareness of poverty and hunger in the United States, with particular attention to Appalachia in Martha’s instance. Redbone supports the Man Up Campaign, the global youth movement to eradicate violence against women and girls for whom she served as the indigenous affairs consultant and creative advisor. She is particularly proud of her accomplishment in having the Campaign’s Board of Directors include an Indigenous North American contingent (independent of the USA) to the roll call of 50 countries taking part in their Youth Leadership Summit held at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa during the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Redbone is currently an Advisory Board member of The Carlisle Indian School Project.

Houma Camp

Martha has given talks on subjects ranging from Indigenous rights to the role of arts in politics at many institutions including New York University, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and on Native Identity during the Native Theater Festival at the Public Theater in NYC. Her album “Skintalk” is part of the permanent collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian as an example of contemporary Native American music. She is featured in NMAI’s current exhibit “Up Where We Belong- Native Americans in Popular Culture”.

Ms. Redbone has also held workshops and given motivational talks with many grade school children throughout her touring on reservations at Red Lake, MN, Cherokee, NC, Yuma AZ and Menominee WI, to name a few. Chairman Floyd Jourdain of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians invited Ms. Redbone to perform for the children of Red Lake as part of a motivational back to school program post the tragic shootings that occurred the previous school year. 100 “Skintalk” albums were donated to the Red Lake Tribal youth council.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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in the Press

THE NEW YORKER
“In a brilliant collision of cultures, the powerful blues and soul singer Martha Redbone has recorded an album called “The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake,” which was produced by John McEuen, of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In it, the mystical, humanistic words of the eighteenth-century English poet are fused with the melodies, drones, and rhythms of the Appalachian string-band music that Redbone absorbed as a child from her grandparents, in Black Mountain, Kentucky.”

ROBERT CHRISTGAU, MSN MUSIC
“Blake is always less obscure in Songs of Innocence and Experience mode, and between Redbone’s lucid, subtle force and the modernized Appalachian settings she fits to the poet’s stanzas, she’s created a new body of folk song by a lyricist who compares favorably to, well, Bob Dylan….A major find…”

JONATHAN WIDRAN, ALL MUSIC
“A truly hypnotic and eloquent roots Americana exploration, The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake beautifully and unexpectedly matches two powerful voices, two centuries, continents, and cultures apart. The mastermind is Martha Redbone, an Independent Music Award winner renowned for blending Native American vibes from her Cherokee and Choctaw background with R&B grooves, blues, and dashes of Appalachian folk.”


POLLSTAR
“The Garden Of Love – Songs Of William Blake isn’t quite like anything you’ve ever heard…Filled with rustic Americana charm, the album offers up visions of coal mines, simple living and her Shawnee and Cherokee ancestors living at one with the land.”

VILLAGE VOICE
"Poised to be Americana's next superstar"

CHRIS GRIFFEY, THE EXAMINER
“The album’s title song, “Garden of Love,” is a masterful introduction to the project, kicking off with a searing acoustic blues lick leading into Redbone’s powerful voice. Here McEuen’s production skills shine as he perfectly swells the music up slowly behind Redbone’s vocals before kicking the band into full gear. It’s the biggest high note on an album that is chock full of them….Whether you’re a fan of William Blake or a guy who barely scraped through Lit 101, any appreciator of good Appalachian blues needs to run out and buy a copy of Martha Redbone’s “Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake.” It is a rare album that works on all level, appealing to the literary mind, the audiophile, and the person who just wants to sit back and listen to something soothing to wind down from a busy day.”

TIME OUT NEW YORK
"Martha Redbone is a charismatic indie-soul diva whose sound is a just-right mix of retro and modern"

from a review by 
TIM JOHNSON, Director of the Smithsonian Institute; National Museum of the American Indian
"Martha Redbone's journey back to the source of American music — and to her own heritage — has conjured up an artistic triumph. The Garden Of Love poignantly reveals a musician at the top of her game, vocally, intellectually, and spiritually. One not only hears the voice of the Bard, in this case William Blake's legendary prose arranged and phrased brilliantly, but also the very origins of American music arising from the blend of American Indian, African American, and English folk music traditions. It's the dawn of a new day for this fascinating artist, and we're all the beneficiaries of her confident, and yet sensitive, quest."

SUSAN J. WOLFSON, PRINCETON 
"I am impressed by how well the minor keys and elegiac tones bring out the darker shadows in Blake's songs" 

VERNON REID
"Martha Redbone's new collection The Garden Of Love sings of the earth, skies of blue & grey, hard birth & easy death. It sings a poem of prophecy whispered by the oldest tree in the farthest corner of the valley. It sings of leaving & returning & of the equanimity of Angels. Martha's voice itself is the very sound of the dreams of hills and rivers- Homebound & Restless; interpreting the hauntingly lovely words of William Blake with the power of a storm & the gentleness of a breeze." 

BRAND NEW REVIEWS -
No 1 in BEST ALBUMS of 2012 "Brilliant fusion" TED GIOLA

 "…one of 2012’s under-the-radar gems…. a gorgeous mélange of sounds, influences, and textures that represents not only Redbone’s multicultural heritage, but also the numerous influences found in American folk and roots music.” JULI THANKI, ENGINE 145 

 "A thick, satisfying stew of Americana" PETER CHIANCA, WICKED LOCAL

"A must-listen" ABOUT.COM

"A revelation" JEFFREY SISK, DAILY NEWS (PA)

"The Garden Of Love: Songs Of William Blake by the Martha Redbone Roots Project is one of those wonderful meetings of minds and culture that comes along once in a while that literally takes your breath away." RICHARD MARCUS, BLOGCRITICS

“The Garden of Love is a 12-track CD filled with moving songs that are masterfully crafted and performed with near perfection." DAN HARR, MUSIC NEWS NASHVILLE

 "The Garden of Love - Songs of William Blake is a landmark album that should propel her to the forefront of the folk scene." HANS WERKSMAN, HERE COMES THE FLOOD

"It's easy to see why folks are drawn to Martha's music. She's genuine, she's real, and she's also genuinely and really talented. Beautiful music from a beautiful heart. Top pick." BABY SUE 

“It is a call to the individual soul, a call that connects an eighteenth century Englishman with nineteenth century Americans and a twenty-first century woman artist: Martha Redbone…” DANIEL GARRETT, THE COMPULSIVE READER

“…simply gorgeous….If you’re into Americana, you should have this in your collection.” STEPHEN CARRADINI, INDEPENDENT CLAUSES

..this is truly American music at its best...This album is both something audaciously new and comfortingly old, and an artistic risk that has paid off big-time. A CD for the ages.”  KEVIN SCOTT HALL, EDGE NEW YORK CITY

BRIAN LUSH, ABORIGINAL SOUNDS
"This CD is quite a revelation..nothing short of amazing.."

MONDOMIX (France)
"The arrangements have been artfully crafted, the musicians are very skillful and the singer's voice is magnificent"

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Previous albums:

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE: 
"Stunning disc, a sharply drawn, wonderfully human collection of material...This woman is a true original; the kind of artist who sets trends, as opposed to following them.”

PERFORMING SONGWRITER: 
“Part Neville Brothers, part Aretha Franklin, part tribal pow-wow. Redbone follows in the footsteps of recent Grammy winners Ozomatli, proving that distinct influences can come together and make relevant and thoroughly enjoyable music.” 

MOJO:
"Fabulous album. Martha Redbone is uniquely individual. Skintalk is supremely soulful with it’s sinewy organic retro grooves. A gem of a record.”

ALL MUSIC GUIDE:
“Perfect blend of the old and the new.” 

NEWS FROM INDIAN COUNTRY:
“A world class talent, Redbone’s performances are nonstop high-energy affairs featuring soulful vocals and ecstatic dancing seasoned by the tightest, funkiest band imaginable."

AMSTERDAM NEWS:
“Her show at Joe’s Pub was nothing less than spectacular. Scintillating, mind blowing, music expanding songs…clearly in a league of her own.”

BLUES AND SOUL:
“Once in a blue moon an album comes along out of nowhere that starts by giving you goosebumps and ends by knocking you completely off your feet. This is one such album. In terms of quality and soulfulness it eclipses everything else I've heard this year.

 

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