Brigitte DeMeyer is a very visible artist in the Americana movement. Her work has stirred accolades in national media. She has been tapped to open for Bob Dylan, among others, and performs frequently at home and abroad. She writes songs as weavers thread tapestries, her most vivid colors being a Southern feel, a churchy soulfulness in her vocals, and a way with words that bears comparison to literature as easily as to the best contemporary lyrics.
With album number six on the horizon for the acclaimed independent singer-songwriter, “Savannah Road” (due out in early 2014), DeMeyer has built a solid foundation with her first five albums, collaborating with giants of the Americana world-world class drummer/producer Brady Blade, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush, and more recently, guitarist/songwriter Will Kimbrough—and has shown herself to have a wonderfully natural feel for soul-steeped, blues-infused roots music.
The daughter of Belgian and German immigrants, she was born in the Midwest, and at a young age moved to Southern California with her family where she started latching onto rootsy sounds, from Etta James, Mavis Staples and Sly Stone, to her discovery of The Allman Brothers, Steve Earle and Patti Griffin.
Though DeMeyer took to soulful southern-tinged music, she also early on, acquired a non-musical Bachelor’s degree and pursued Post Baccalaureate studies working assorted jobs to produce a steady income, all the while making music on the side, (even studying with vocal coach Judy Davis, who had been a mainstay instructor for Janis Joplin and Barbara Streisand). “I loved studying with Judy, but I always felt my best lessons were from the folks I listened to and played with, and more from my mistakes in life which made me want to write. You gotta work at it, but it all helps to make you better as an artist,” says DeMeyer. She ultimately turned the by-the-book plan on its head, taking a brave leap into pursuing music full-time. The roundabout route has served the substance of her songs well. As she puts it, “I had to struggle for a while, paying the rent, getting my heart stomped on a time or two, but got the insight I needed to start and continue to write. Instead of it all being there on my sleeve, it’s on the paper now, and in the air”.
It didn’t take DeMeyer long to find kindred musical spirits. Brady Blade and DeMeyer hit it off after DeMeyer approached him to guest on her 2nd CD, Nothing Comes Free. He signed on to play, and produced her following two CD’s, Something After All and Red River Flower, and co-produced DeMeyer’s 5th CD, Rose of Jericho, with DeMeyer, all along bringing in a small army of masterly players and singers he knew would appreciate what she was doing. Players like Buddy Miller (with whom she’s since shared the stage on more than one occasion), Steve Earle, Ivan Neville, Daniel Lanois, the Indigo Girls’ Emily Saliers, the McCrary Sisters and steel ace Al Perkins (who invited her to join two European tours). On her 5th CD Rose of Jericho, DeMeyer expanded her impressive stable of collaborators with contributions from full-throated force of nature Mike Farris, guitar gurus Kimbrough and Doug Lancio and mandolin virtuoso Sam Bush.
With a 2010 relocation from California to Nashville, DeMeyer has been delving deeper into southern musical territory. Gaining momentum and visibility as a performing artist, she has built a strong partnership with guitarist/songwriter Will Kimbrough, with whom she has toured and performed with extensively since her last release. The songs DeMeyer has been writing, primarily with Kimbrough, are a thick and swampy blend of steel and slide guitar, fingerpicking, blues inflection, and literary imagery. “Acoustic soul” as they like to call it. The songs stem from DeMeyer and Kimbrough’s musical chemistry, and are brought further to life with additional players Brady Blade, keyboardist Jimmy Wallace, guitar/mandolinist Guthrie Trapp, and bassist Chris Donohue. Also featured are friends the McCrary Sisters, and Ricky and Micol Davis of Blue Mother Tupelo.
With DeMeyer’s lyrical skill, ease with melody, and expressive vocals, combined with Kimbrough’s mastery of strings, the result is Savannah Road, a spooky and soulful collection of songs, taking the listener to another time and place. A sure standout in the coming year’s musical landscape.