GORDON ALSO CURATES THE GORDON GALLERY IN NASHVILLE, TN
When master songwriter Kevin Gordon read folklorist and University of North Carolina professor William Ferris' book "Local Color," he was particularly struck by the oral history of Yazoo City, MS quilter Pecolia Warner. "Things she says in there about creativity, art and the spirit, really got to me," he says.
Warner was born in 1901 in Rose Hill, MS, only some 250 miles from Gordon's birthplace in northern Louisiana.
Gordon chose to tell her story in the first person in his song "Pecolia's Star," named for her favorite quilting design, in some cases using her words and phrases for his lyrics. He draws out the metaphors of a quilt in creating community, tying together kinship bonds, and the comfort of faith for a woman who faced economic struggles as a sharecropper.
"I was raised up in the fields, hard work
Was just like breathing
Knowing nothing else
Wanting nothing more
Like morning brings the day, summer sun
Brought the cool of the evening
I’d watch the women sew and sing
Behind an old screen door…
Yes, I’ve been on that hill, a long time
I don’t never want for nothing, or nowhere
Stay right here with my people
Just give me Mississippi
You can have all the rest
As long as I can see, I’ll be
Trying to thread that needle
With my mind on the Maker
Working to do my best"
"Pecolia's Star" isn't Gordon's only interaction with folk art. He also curates the Gordon Gallery in Nashville, TN, focusing on folk and outsider artists. Gordon says, "I found this work, with its immediacy, inventiveness, and singular power, being made outside of an academy or career track, to be a source of renewal and revelation after two years of graduate study in poetry at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop."
The Bug Music artist – the southern rock and roll songwriter who has been covered by Keith Richards, Levon Helm, and Irma Thomas and who has recorded a duet with Lucinda Williams – will release 'Gloryland' (February 14 / Crowville Media), his first new album in 7 years.
Of Gordon's music, Buddy Miller said, "It reminds me of why I love music. I get transported to a beautiful, strange, familiar place. It's where the best music comes from. Deep and soulful." No Depression has called Gordon's music “dirty and beautiful." All Music Guide said, "Kevin Gordon has earned the reputation as a storytelling leader." Entertainment Weekly said, "He evokes the scorching guitar intensity of Springsteen."