Center For Arts & Equity

Iris DeMent

Iris DeMent was born in Arkansas, the baby of 14 children. Growing up in Los Angeles, DeMent sang in a Pentecostal church choir, and as a teenager was exposed to country, folk and R&B which all influenced her songwriting.

Moving to Kansas City for college, DeMent began songwriting as a 25-year-old. She wrote “Our Town” while driving through a boarded up Midwestern town and says she made no changes to it from that initial writing – and realized she had found her calling.

Despite no support from country radio, DeMent’s first album Infamous Angel sold well through word of mouth and landed her a major label record deal. Rolling Stone recently included the album as one of its Greatest Country Albums of All Time. Take that, country radio.

With unforgettable melodies rooted in hymns, gospel, and old country music, she's simply one of the finest singer-songwriters in America. In addition to her solo albums, Iris DeMent has had some very successful collaborations. She joined John Prine for 4 songs on his In Spite of Ourselves album. Prine described her inimitable voice as "like you've heard, but not really.”

On her transcendent new record, Workin' On A World, Iris DeMent faces the modern world – as it is right now – with its climate catastrophe, pandemic illness, and epidemic of violence and social injustice – and not only asks us how we can keep working towards a better world, but implores us to love each other, despite our very different ways of seeing. Her songs are her way of healing our broken inner and outer spaces. The result is a hopeful album – shimmering with brilliant flashes of poignant humor and uplifting tenderness – that speaks the truth, “in the way that truth is always hopeful.” On Workin’ On A World, Iris DeMent demonstrates that songs are the healing and the healing arises through song.

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