Iris Dement Biography
established herself as a straightforward singer/songwriter with the ability to touch the heart and soul of an audience.
Her songs, performed on piano and guitar, are punctuated by humorous anecdotes which intensify an audience's vulnerability to the gripping message of those songs. Iris was the last of fourteen children born to a church-centered family. Within the family and the church she learned to sing and play piano. Iris was three years old when the family moved from Paragould, Ark. to Orange County, Cal., where as a teen she discovered she was in conflict with much of what was being said in church and left. At 17 she quit high school, got a GED and went to work at K-Mart. This was the start of a string of unfulfilling jobs, but it was also those years and the time spent questioning herself that led her, at age 25, to embrace the dream she'd had since childhood--to "write songs and sing 'em for people".
She writes about life's inescapable beginnings and endings: its meaning, our social fabric and our shortcomings. Her three albums, marked by great songwriting, honest presentation and resonant vocals, have received wide critical acclaim. The song "Our Town" from her 1992 debut Infamous Angel was used to close the final episode of the television series Northern Exposure. "Let The Mystery Be", also from that album, was used in the motion picture Little Buddha. Her second album, My Life, a Grammy nominee in 1994, was followed by The Way I Should in 1996.
Iris has toured extensively in the United States and Europe to enthusiastic receptions. She has appeared in support of John Prine, Nanci Griffith, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin and Tom Petty. Her television and radio appearances include The Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Conan O'Brien Show, Austin City Limits and A Prairie Home Companion.
"And I discovered an artist on this tape I'd never heard before, Iris DeMent, who knocked me out! I gotta say this, I didn't come 58 years to have a girl knock me out as a singer. [Laughs] Girl singers are not my favorite thing in the world. But boy is she great! She's like a female Jimmie Rodgers or Lefty Frizzell or something"
quoted in Musician
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Gratitude for your version of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" | Reviewer: George | 3/1/11
Brought tears to my eyes
A perfect blend of
And peace of mind
For you and the song
My heart felt thanks
In the most positive sense of the word, Iris has a ‘primitive’ voice harking back to the beloved porch singers of the South.
It’s a beautiful feeling, and a great gift and treasure, to find a song or anything which brings tears of joy and gratitude to our eyes. Elisha A. Hoffman, lyricist and Anthony J. Showalter, musician would no doubt disapprove of my interpretation of their words. For me, the everlasting arms belong to The Great Mystery. For them, they may have meant the arms of Jesus
What and American Jewel! | Reviewer: Bob Combs | 5/14/10
Words cannot describe this American Soul of Song, she has the most valuable of all qualities in her singing and writing, Honesty. Witty, Intelligent, Talented, Beautiful, a True Gift of God to His People and Our Country. Go Iris Go!!!
Cool as a glass of water. | Reviewer: Laine Moore | 8/31/07
Iris Dement's song writing ability is as good as it gets, with an ability to perform them just as great! She has the story telling gift simalar to greats like Patty Lovelace, combined with a unique voice with a hint of a growl like Janis Joplin. She can sing at my place anytime.
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