Sign up for newsletter

Laura Cantrell pays homage to Kitty Wells

Friday, April 1, 2011 – Laura Cantrell will get her Kitty well jones out with "Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music" dropping on Tuesday, May 17.

Fans can go to Cantrell's web site to download a free MP3 of Cantrell's original composition, Kitty Wells Dresses.

Nashville born and New York based, Cantrell has often celebrated the women of country music, both on her own acclaimed albums and her long-running "Radio Thrift Shop" program on WFMU.

The CD was prompted by Cantrell's invitation in May 2009 from the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville to present a musical program for their "Kitty Wells: Queen of Country Music" exhibit. Inspired by the first-ever solo exhibit dedicated to a female Hall of Fame member, Cantrell composed an original song with friend Amy Allison called Kitty Wells Dresses. She also reacquainted herself with Wells repertoire, rediscovering old favorites like I Don't Claim To Be An Angel and I Gave My Wedding Dress Away, songs she'd been performing since she'd first started playing music. After the concert, she decided to make a recording honoring the sound and songs of Wells, whose trailblazing commercial and artistic achievements made her Country Music's first female superstar.

"I've been a Kitty Wells fan since childhood," said Cantrell, "inheriting my regard for her music from my father's family from West Tennessee. While preparing for the Hall of Fame show, I was reminded how great her music is and how wrong it seems that it is not better remembered today. I always responded to the fundamental feeling in Wells' singing, her way of sounding both emotional and restrained at once, a really affecting combination."

"Sadly, the casual country music fan of today doesn't know Wells' story beyond It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels, the 1952 answer to Hank Thompson's Wild Side of Life that has become the short hand sum of her musical legacy - a reduction that bothers me greatly. In putting together this recording, I wanted to include some material written for Wells by her husband Johnnie Wright - of Johnnie & Jack and The Tennessee Mountain Boys. I wanted to represent her range - the songs specifically written from a woman's point of view like I Don't Claim To Be An Angel, the classic ballads, the cheating and heart songs that make up her body of work."

Cantrell recorded in Nashville with producer Mark Nevers (Lambchop, Andrew Bird's "Bowl of Fire, "Will Oldham), musicians Chris Scruggs (BR549, M Ward), Fats Kaplin (Kane Welch Kaplin), Paul Niehaus (Calexico) and a duet with BR549 frontman Chuck Mead One By One. "I made this record in my hometown with a great group of musicians dedicated to playing country music with a sense of its craft and history. I sincerely hope that listeners will rediscover the beauty and resilience of Kitty Wells and her music."

Cantrell has had a recording and performing career ever since she began releasing original material in 2000. In addition to her work as a DJ at New York radio stations such as WFMU and Columbia's WKCR (she graduated from the university), her early days as a performer started with groups like Bricks, led by future Superchunk/Merge Records kingpin Mac Macaughan. She eventually befriended John Flansburgh of They Might Be Giants, who recruited her to sing on the band's "Apollo 18" album and who later produced and released an EP of her original compositions.

Cantrell released her debut album "Not the Tremblin' Kind" in 2000. Her 2002 sophomore release "When the Roses Bloom Again" led to opening slots on Elvis Costello's 2002 U.S. tour. Cantrell's next release was in 2005 on Matador, "Humming by the Flowered Vine."

Her latest recording, "Trains and Boats and Planes," delivered interpretations of a diverse set of tunes including her bittersweet reading of the Burt Bacharach/Hal David-penned title track, along with poignant interpretations of Merle Haggard's Silver Wings and Roger Miller's Train of Life and a mournful reworking of New Order's Love Vigilantes.

At 91, Wells is the oldest living member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, and her success opened the door for subsequent female superstars including Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton and Tammy Wynette.

Songs on the new CD are:

1. Kitty Wells Dresses

2. I Don't Claim To Be An Angel

3. Poison in Your Heart

4. One By One (with Chuck Mead)

5. I Can't Tell My Heart

6. It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels

7. Making Believe

8. Amigo's Guitar

9. I Gave My Wedding Dress Away

10. Searching For A Soldier's Grave

Cantrell will celebrate the CD release with a special full band show at Hill Country BBQ in New York City on Thursday, May 19 and will perform at the Iron Horse (Northampton, Mass. on May 21), Club Passim (Cambridge, Mass. on May 23), Tin Angel (Philadelphia on June 3), Jammin Java (Vienna, Va. on June 4) and others to be announced.

More news for Laura Cantrell

CD reviews for Laura Cantrell

No Way There From Here CD review - No Way There From Here
Midway through Laura Cantrell's "No Way Home From Here," she kicks off the track "Beg or Borrow Days" with a two-step groove colored with fiddle and slightly Celtic feel. This leads to the banjo-driven "Driving Down Your Street," another rhythmic track that. And after the four melancholy, manic depressive songs in a row that precede these, it's a little like a light going on. But then again, the opener, "All the Girls Are Complicated," should give »»»
Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music CD review - Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music
Over the past decade, Laura Cantrell has become one of the most lauded singers within the Americana field. A gifted songwriter herself, Cantrell has been quick with a cover having included songs from diverse sources including Roger Miller, New Order, Gordon Lightfoot, Lucinda Williams and Wynn Stewart on her albums. Obviously a labor of love, "Kitty Wells Dresses: Songs of the Queen of Country Music" doesn't stop with charts hits, although a handful are included including impressive »»»
Trains and Boats and Planes CD review - Trains and Boats and Planes
This eight-song, digital-only EP is Laura Cantrell's abbreviated follow up to the critically acclaimed "Humming By The Flowered Vine" (Matador Records, 2005). For this project, Cantrell chose a half dozen covers by estimable songwriting talents including Roger Miller, John Hartford, Merle Haggard and Burt Bachrach-Hal David. There's even a poignantly rendered cover of New Order's "Love Vigilantes." Although this thematic EP seems to be about travel, in plumbing »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kristofferson gives insight, but no easy answers – When they say music gets better with age, they're not always just talking about songs alone; sometimes they're also referring to the listener. When Kris Kristofferson sings, "Well, I woke up Sunday morning/With no way to hold my head that didn't hurt," to smartly open "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down," he... »»»
Concert Review: No sugarcoating, Welch dishes out an experience – Gillian Welch (accompanied, as always, by master guitarist David Rawlings), celebrated her "The Harrow & The Harvest" album with a powerful night of music. She apologized many times for the utter unhappiness expressed through this album's songs, admitting it's "not the most chipper album" at one point.... »»»
Subscribe to Country News Digest Country News Digest      Follow Country Standard Time on twitter CST      Visit Country Standard Time on Facebook CST

Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Hillman bides his time Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»
The Cadillac Three creates its "Legacy" William Shakespeare noted a few centuries back that a rose by any other name would be equally aromatic, and that general idea has musical implications as well. The Cadillac Three knows a thing or two about maintaining a sonic identity after a name change;... »»»
With Stanley and Watson, sound isn't elementary Those aware of the late Owsley "Bear" Stanley likely know him for one of two reasons - his pioneering work manufacturing lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in San Francisco during the mid-to-late 1960s and his role as an innovative sound engineer. Most notably, Bear worked...... »»»
May shifts gears, directions Headed into 2015, Imelda May was on a hit streak. Her rockabilly career was in full swing, nurtured by the likes of former Squeeze keyboardist Jools Holland and guitar icon Jeff Beck. Her albums routinely topped the charts in her native Ireland.... »»»
Lane assumes mantle of "Highway Queen" For most artists, eight years is a fair amount of time in their careers. For Nikki Lane, eight years represents the entirety of her recorded history, and she's filled that relatively short time span with a highlight reel of impressive accomplishments, not the least of which would be actually... »»»
The Avett Brothers come home to MerleFest For The Avett Brothers, MerleFest is a coming home of sorts. This year's edition of the MerleFest "traditional-plus" music festival in Wilkesboro, N.C., the event's 30th anniversary, a milestone...... »»»
First Cigarette CD review - First Cigarette
The stunning vocal of Travis Meadows on the opening track, "Sideways," brims with honesty, pain and hard-earned wisdom as he offers a blend of confession and advice, stimulated by an experience at an adolescent addiction treatment center. Meadows, like many, is one of those Nashville songwriters ("Riser" for Dierks Bentley and "What We Ain't Got" for Jake Owen), but is finding his own voice relatively late in life. »»»
The Long Awaited Album CD review - The Long Awaited Album
When last we visited a new album from Steve Martin & the Steep Canyon Rangers, 2011's "Rare Bird Alert," we found a cohesive, focused collection of bluegrass; it was an expansive, artistic creation that only benefited the bluegrass community. A subsequent live album (strikingly entitled "Live") presented a continued refinement of this pairing's chemistry.  »»»
Bidin' My Time CD review - Bidin' My Time
With all the memorable music Chris Hillman created with The Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers and Desert Rose Band, he has nothing left to prove. He's a both a bona fide rock and country icon. Tom Petty, who owes an obvious debt to Hillman's...  »»»
Turmoil & Tinfoil CD review - Turmoil & Tinfoil
Billy Strings. It takes a lot of nerve to adopt such a nom de plume (in this case nom de guerre might be more appropriate) in the bluegrass world, but Billy Strings is up to the challenge, and more. Strings (real name William Apostol) grew up in Michigan, surrounded by musicians. »»»
Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls CD review - Jon Langford's Four Lost Souls
Jon Langford shifts musical gears as effortlessly as a European race car driver on a Grand Prix course. Looking at the totality of his career (The Mekons, Waco Brothers, Skull Orchard, the Three Johns, Wee Hairy Beasties, Pine Valley Cosmonauts, Bad Luck Jonathan, God knows what else), it hardly seems as though one peg could have fit into all those oddly shaped holes... »»»
Contraband Love CD review - Contraband Love
Larry Campbell and Teresa Campbell could have been content to retain their status as musicians on call, given the fact that they've loaned their services to any number of high profile employers -- Bob Dylan, Rosanne Cash, Mavis Staples, Levon Helm, Little... »»»