Singer/songwriter Diana Jones' country music is far from the mainstream brand. She performs the kind of literary, progressive, yet historically rich music (evocative of old-timey mountain music) that puts her in a league with predecessors such as Gillian Welch and Iris DeMent. Jones -- raised in New Jersey, Long Island, and Rhode Island (her father was a chemical engineer) -- is a northerner by rearing but a southerner by heritage, having been adopted as a baby. Jones left home as a teenager but was eventually able to rise above the down-and-out possibilities of her circumstances by getting into Sarah Lawrence College. In the late '80s, she tracked down her birth family in Tennessee. As she sought out her roots, she was exposed to traditional country music, particularly that of eastern Tennessee, via her newfound connection with her biological grandfather. Her birth mother had moved to England, and while staying there with her, Jones was badly injured in a car accident.
Upon recovering, she spent some time in Austin in the '90s, establishing herself as a folk artist and releasing two barely noticed albums, one in 1997 and another in 1998, then returning to the Northeast (to Northampton, MA) in mourning after the death of her grandfather. There, she experienced a creative renaissance of sorts, and it was during this fertile era that she found her voice as a poetical country-folk songwriter. My Remembrance of You, the bounty of all that woodshedding, emerged in the spring of 2006, boasting Appalachian string band-style instrumentation and Jones' character-driven, often historical portraits, such as the Dakota girl of "Pony" and the Confederate soldier of "Cold Grey Ground." The album was lauded in Americana critical circles, ending up on best-of lists in Nashville Scene and the Chicago Tribune. (The latter publication called her "the best American songwriter most people have never heard of.") She also racked up other notices in 2006, including Best New Artist at the Kerrville Folk Festival Awards and a nomination for Best Emerging Artist at the Folk Alliance Awards. ~ Erik Hage