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Soul Sister

BY JEN HOCH | OCTOBER 03, 2013 5:00 AM

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Martha Redbone associates her music with blues, rhythm, and native elements of soul.

The 43-year-old singer/songwriter ventured to Iowa City this past week for a prolonged visit of workshops, performances, and appearances.

Redbone will perform at 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. today at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., in an event hosted by Hancher. Admission ranges from $10 to $20.

The artist, who is most famous for her incorporation of music and poetry, says she gets inspiration from her family and more recently poems from William Blake.

“We took the idea of taking poetry and setting it to music,” Redbone said. “The inspiration comes from our own experience of traveling; witnessing and experiencing a love for music.”

She said she found this encouragement from looking through old family artifacts and wanting her son to remember his family by something other than old photographs.

“We were just looking for one song and found a whole world of wonderful poetry that is so relevant to today,” Redbone said. “Wars in the world and corporations taking over, questioning religion and authority, etc.”

Redbone, who has been touring since April, says she loves the idea of sharing music wherever she goes. One of her favorite aspects of her job is being able to travel with her husband and 5-year-old son, who she considers to be a global citizen.

“This is the best job in the world; being able to make music for a living, it’s a privilege,” Redbone said. “Most people aren’t able to say that about their work.”

The six-piece band is made up of a guitar, banjo, bass, melodica, auto-harp, and keyboard. Redbone is the singer and hand percussionist while husband Aaron Whitby is the group’s keyboard and melodica player.

She began one of many performances on Sept. 29 in Hubbard Park for the Diversity Festival for a crowd of students and Iowa City residents.

“The feedback from the festival was incredible. It’s a thrill to have Martha here this week,” said Jacob Yarrow, the Hancher programming director. “It’s a remarkable mixture of music and poetry; it has a lot of depth to it.”

UI senior Erin Muncer, who attended Redbone’s performance at the Diversity Festival, said the artist is a spiritual diva.

“She is so passionate about her music; it made her so much fun to watch,” Muncer said. “I had never heard of her before Sunday but I became a big fan. Some friends and I are going to see her perform again on Thursday.”

Among Redbone’s performances, she will speak on behalf of Why Hunger — a program focused on hunger and poverty in which she is an ambassador. The artist will also give a talk on cultural diversity and how students can get involved with their community.

“This is my first time performing in Iowa City,” Redbone said. “It’s going to be a wonderful week; we have a lot to look forward to.”


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