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Iris DeMent

One of the most celebrated country-folk performers of her day, singer/songwriter Iris DeMent was born on January 5, 1961, in rural Paragould, Arkansas, the youngest of 14 children. At the age of three, her devoutly religious family moved to California, where she grew up singing gospel music; during her teenaged years, however, she was first exposed to country, folk, and R&B, drawing influence from Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, and Joni Mitchell. Upon graduating high school, she relocated to Kansas City to attend college.

After a series of jobs waitressing and typing, DeMent first began composing songs at the age of 25. Honing her skills at open-mike nights, in 1988 she moved to Nashville, where she contacted producer Jim Rooney, who helped her land a record contract. DeMent did not make her recording debut until 1992, when her independent label offering Infamous Angel won almost universal acclaim thanks to her pure, evocative vocal style and spare, heartfelt songcraft. Despite a complete lack of support from country radio, the record's word-of-mouth praise earned her a deal with Warner Bros., which reissued Infamous Angel in 1993 as well as its follow-up, 1994's stunning My Life.

Her third LP, 1996's eclectic The Way I Should, marked a dramatic change not only in its more rock-influenced sound but also in its subject matter; where DeMent's prior work was introspective and deeply personal, The Way I Should was fiercely political, tackling topics like sexual abuse, religion, government policy, and Vietnam. In 1999, she collaborated with country man John Prine on his album In Spite of Ourselves. DeMent recorded four duets with Prine that earned her a Grammy nod the following year. Her own recording career was on hiatus for the late '90s and early 2000s, but she returned in 2005 with Lifeline, a collection of gospel hymns. Released in 2012, Sing the Delta, her first album of original songs in 16 years, found her working again within the sparse and emotional quilt of her earlier releases. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

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pandora-gary e s
Emotionally blown away by Our Town when it was played at the end of the last episode of Northern Exposure. That was my introduction to Iris DeMent.
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I have been a fan for more than 20 years. I saw her play live in East Aurora NY on 4/10/15. She played for two hours, I could have watched for two more.She was great. I hope she comes back to this area again.
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drummer66y
the real thing. Thank you Iris. None else can do whatever it is you do. really...
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Paragould has an interesting origin. Waiting for some fresh eyes. I'm just saying ...
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she makes me cry
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She has a way of singing me into a peaceful dream B. Smith
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kc-edney
or something from True Grit?
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millerrh
Pandora--ple a s e add Iris' Fifty Miles of Elbow Room on her Infamous Angel CD-- it will move any listener regardless of religion.
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boba2869
I agree bobfx. Having spent quite a bit of my younger life living in a small town, I can definitely relate to what she is singing about.
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If u really want to cry listen to Iris sing my town U won't be able to stop playing it. I never tire of it!
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I was in The Barrymore Theatre in Madison Wi the night the Iraq war started. We were all excited to hear Iris and clear our minds. She came on stage and in a heartfelt voice said she could not perform. Silence followed as we collectively absorbed what she was saying. We needed her. Many of us shed tears for both the times and our selfish loss of her voice that night. I love Iris.
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ashleypascer i
She touches your soul and is a beautiful writer. Some of the best Americana songs ever. See her live, but bring your kleenex.
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Let the mystery be is absolutly fantastic. Found it on youtube, What a great smile!!!!!
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Iris did a great job singing with James Taylor. I enjoy listening to her each day in truck on the way to the house. Thank you Iris !!
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witchazelwoo d
Add me to the growing list of folks unamusedly bemused by the first sentence of the bio. Really, Pandora, is this the best you can do--really??
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I agree with hutchwit and peabuttnutte r . Bio could use some editing. Iris is great!
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peabuttnutte r
I agree with hutchwit that line in the bio left me scratching my head
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i enjoy the music
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retextor
Who knows a sadder song and presentation than Easy's Gettin' Harder Every Day?
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I saw Iris with John Prine in Charlotte, NC and was taken in by her songs, voice and stage presence. Really a pleasure.
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hutchwit
In her day? Is the bio writer 14 years old? It reads like she received a Grammy for recording on wax cylinders.
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Iris touches my soul. Every time I hear her sing, tears come to my eyes . It has been this way for 17 years.
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lolopenson
I'm not religious, but when I listen to Iris, it makes me feel somewhat religious. I want to cry, her voice is so beautiful.
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retextor
The bio author implies Iris' time has passed. Not while she performs and has fans.
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I have been to many concerts and shows during the past four decades. Yes in the round was fantastic, Rush is always a masterful show, Iron Maiden in 1986 and 1989 and sometime in the 90's - all great shows. I saw Iris in a tiny gin joint in downtown Milwaukee a few years back. Bar in the backround-fo l d i n g chairs in rows. She was mesmerizing, inspiring and just beautiful. One of the best shows I have ever been a part of.
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dennisgillia m
A day without Iris really sucks....
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gbrown516
I love this music but must be prepared for a day of melancholy after a few tracks. What a unique voice and delightful lyrics.
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What a beautiful human being and a voice that makes me cry. Check out the closing scene of True Grit.
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"Pure" is a word used too often to describe too many, but to me, this artist is very pure, in voice, as a composer and as a performer. Love the whole package.
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makes me cry,,,,,
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Songs of home and heart absolutely incredible talent and ability to make one remember how we became who we are. I lament, laugh, and joyfully dance to Iris Dement!
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Iris writes from the heart. I believe it helps to have grown up in a small rural town to understand the beauty her words. A earthy, country voice that touches many memories. I like to see her perform in person.
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deepurchase
She touches a note in every song of my life.
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kandsmith3
Pure lyrics, easy melodies - evoking true & simple LIFE. Love her!
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I love Iris.
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vlowery
Love her performance in the film "Songcatcher " too.
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elranchogran d e
iris is very special, especially to me and my late wife...
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witchazelwoo d
Nobody -- *nobody* -- rocks it like Sweet Iris!
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pyleout
I heard a song by her about her Grandmother' s garden gate on Austin City Limits one time. I would love to hear it again but can not seem to find the song. Anyone know what is is called and how to find it?
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I credit/blame Iris DeMent for my subscription to XM Radio going on five years now. (She was found on XM in rented Avis car May 1996)
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markjenssen
have always loved her music, went to see her in South Beach in the early 90's does anyone know if she is coming to Honolulu?
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Can't wait to see Iris once more at The Arden Guild Hall in Wilmington DE.
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witchazelwoo d
Ms. Dement has to be the most under-rated and underappreci a t e d singer/songw r i t e r in the country. Rock on, Sweet Iris!
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Probably one of the most underrated singers I've every known. She is so much better than most in her genre .. I wonder how this can happen.
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Suitable for weddings funerals & sitting on the porch w/ your sisters.
I pure D love her
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Hot diggity ducks! This lady is finer than hair on a frog!
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SOOTHING WONDERFUL SOUL BALM
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Great song writer... a beautiful, very unique voice
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"Wasteland of the Free" is my favorite 'Iris', but I could listen to her sing the phone book in that distinctive voice.
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wow
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