I grew up in the South Carolina foothills of the Appalachians, in a house shaded by large oak trees and filled with music, live and recorded, which gave me a conviction growing up that the world was a sturdy, melodious place that would always make me sneeze. My earliest music influences were the R&B tunes from my brother's glorious stash of 45's - Bill Withers, The Brothers Johnson, Stevie Wonder - which I'd sneak into his room and play when he wasn't looking. A few years later I discovered folk and bossanova, playing our dog-eared Joni Mitchell and Astrud Gilberto records until we had to buy replacement copies.
Music and dancing have always been entwined for me. In high school I studied to be a dancer and started playing guitar to unwind after long dance rehearsals. Afraid that I'd end up a barista in a coffee joint if I stuck with dancing, I opted for a more secure future and went to college for Latin. At that time my alma mater Brown was enjoying a lively singer-songwriter scene, and with added inspiration in my headphones from Joni and Jobim, I began experimenting with alternate tunings and formed my first band with three college friends, playing clubs in and around Providence.
After graduation I drove to the folk music epicenter of the eastern seaboard, Cambridge MA, immediately landing work as a barista in a coffee joint. I also began playing in the subways and coffeehouses around Cambridge, including the venerable folk mecca Club Passim, and recorded my first solo acoustic CD Volcano in 1996 - six songs written in six different tunings which proved impossible to play all together at shows. A couple of years later I teamed up with members of the Boston-based rock band Groovasaurus to record and independently release my second album, Living Room Dances in 1999, a fusion of folk and jazz and a snapshot of my experiments with alternate tunings.
Whereas the songs of Living Room Dances have the feel of composed poems set to music, my third album Good Again, released in 2005, is a set of living conversations with people and events that have passed through and deeply impacted my life after 9/11, especially from my experiences teaching refugees in Boston. With the tunes on Good Again I also started moving away from my acoustic folk roots towards a jazz/R&B influenced sound, again having the good fortune to collaborate with some of the best rock and jazz players in the Boston music scene.
These days I've traded in my acoustic Guild for an electric Ibanez, begun exploring the Blues, and have traveled further backwards to the spirit of the R&B 45's I danced to as a kid under oak trees. I think it's the music most deeply rooted in my body, memory and movement. Comfort food for uncertain times and places far from home. You can check out my latest album Come and Gone at: www.cdbaby.com/cd/jodyblackwell