While Jade Bird has a fall headlining tour already set, the young Americana singer still has a summer of opening gigs first.
After a couple of months worth of dates playing in front of Canadian outlaw country star Colter Wall ("Sleeping on the Blacktop") and Southern soul singer Anderson East ("All on My Mind"), she is now at the tail-end of a tour schedule that has her supporting Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit ("It's a Shame").
The tour brings the British singer-songwriter to the North Carolina Museum of Art this Friday night in the first concert of the museum's summer concert series.
While it may feel like a calculated move to book two of the hottest crossover foreign Americana acts together for a summer run, more likely these acts found each other through serendipity. First Aid Kit managed to crack the Top 10 on Billboard's Adult Alternative singles chart late last year, thanks to providing guest vocals on Van William's AAA hit "Revolution."
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But the success Bird has seen in a relatively short amount of time has been astonishing.
Bird's single "Lottery" has made a mark for itself across multiple charts in a way that a 21-year-old singer-songwriter hasn't seen in years. Crafting a tune that blends Americana stylings with pop production, yet remains decidedly unlike any other song you're likely to find on the pop charts in recent memory, Bird is merely the latest in a line of female talents this year to buck against the tradition of what Americana or country music should sound like.
Perhaps part of the reason for this independent streak dates back to the music she listened to growing up. The voices of strong women filled her mother's car during the trips of Bird's childhood, and the lyrics of these women captured her attention, as well. She soon found herself fascinated with both the musical cultures — as well as the lives — of such women as Loretta Lynn and Alanis Morissette. She felt compelled to follow their example, once she began crafting her own tunes.
The News & Observer spoke with Bird before her show this weekend. We discussed the impact these female vocalists had on the singer's artistry, as well as what it means to be a crossover hit in 2018.
Q: "Lottery," thanks to its crossover success, has become one of this summer's biggest songs. Have there been moments where you've felt overwhelmed by sudden popularity?
A: I've been preparing for this for a long time. I've been (playing live) and writing my own music since I was 12 and I've worked very hard to get to where I am today. While it does feel a little overwhelming sometimes, it's never in a negative way. If this many people find themselves attached to my music because they like it and like me for the artist that I am, it's so much better than being pushed out toward an audience that doesn't believe in either you or the music that you're making.
That's when you start to feel overwhelmed, when you're not really contributing anything worthwhile to anyone. Everything just feels authentic right now, and I'm quite pleased with the response I'm getting.
Q: We recently spoke to Ruby Boots about how Americana is expanding is popularity, with it reaching her native Australia, and of course there is Sweden for your tour mates First Aid Kit. What is your opinion on what's led to the UK embrace of the genre?
A: I think with Americana, the focus in that genre of music is the songwriting, and I think the narratives found there just showcase the heart and soul of the artists telling the story. The reason that people in younger generations may be leaning toward Americana, in my opinion, is because there is a lot of music being made that is just disposable at the moment.
A lot of music on the radio just sounds like money, you know what I mean? I like to say that you can sell hundreds of cookies to people, but sooner or later they're going to crave something a little more (nutritious).
Q: You have said in the past that Loretta Lynn and Alanis Morissette are two major influences on your music. It feels like Morissette in particular is getting a lot of respect from new artists. What was it about her music that really drew you to her?
A: My mom played a lot of (Morissette's) music in the car when I was growing up, but I revisited it when I was around 17 or 18. For young women, "Jagged Little Pill" could act as your Bible, it's so accurate in what you go through in relationships. The lyrics were so refreshingly unique. No one has been able to recapture what she created with that album, but I aspire to do myself, just by creating lyrics that are so representative of the creator that no one else could do them justice.
I think she's being rediscovered now, but I think a lot of artists from that period are, as I know a lot of younger people are beginning to dig through the archives to find music to listen to. You get kind of bored just listening to whatever is shoved in your face, and you begin to look for things that might interest you, just by doing your research.
When: 8 p.m. June 8
Where: Museum Park Amphitheater, 2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh
Tickets: Sold out
Info: 919-715-5923 or ncartmuseum.org
NC Museum of Art Summer Concert Series
Here is the schedule for the rest of the season. Picnics are welcome. The museum's Iris restaurant also provides food and beverage options, including beer and wine, for purchase. Parking is free.
June 16 — Shovels and Rope, Son Volt
June 23 — Mandolin Orange, Charlie Parr (sold out)
July 12 — Lake Street Dive, Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear
July 28 — The Mavericks
Aug. 1 — Father John Misty, Jenny Lewis
Aug. 3 — Kishi Bashi, Jake Shimabukuro
Aug. 4 — Paris Combo
Aug. 18 — Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown (sold out)
Sept. 7-9 — Paperhand Puppets