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To Heaven U Ride (Live)

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“She’s got a gospel set for you,” says the announcer of the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival and this “unauthorized” recording captures Texas singer-songwriter Michelle Shocked reaching for her gospel roots on June 22, 2003, with her solid Bay Area backing group and members of a small Los Angeles choir. Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “Strange Things Happening Every Day” sets the flow. Shocked is loose and ready to testify, extending the groove to make room for her words, both spiritual and tied to current events. The Band’s “The Weight” follows and it too finds its gospel roots, with Shocked turning from concerned folkie to an ageless blueswoman. Four originals pepper the set — the soulful strut of “Psalm” fitting the context most effectively. But the real joy for Shocked here is her chance to explore her role as an interpretive singer. The Staples Singers’ ‘Uncloudy Day,” Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” and Tharpe’s “Ain’t Gonna Study War No More” sound comfortable in her control. The recording itself captures the open-air vibe of a festival performance with a loose, improvisational feel throughout.


Born: 24 February 1962 in Dallas, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Michelle Shocked was born Michelle Johnston in Dallas, TX, in 1962, where she spent her early childhood traveling around army bases. In 1977, she ran away from her Mormon fundamentalist mother to live with her father, who introduced her to country bluesmen Big Bill Broonzy and Leadbelly, as well as contemporary songwriters Guy Clark and Randy Newman. She spent the next several years exploring the folk underground, spending the early '80s in Austin, where she began honing her own songwriting skills....
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To Heaven U Ride (Live), Michelle Shocked
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