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Kate Campbell with monuments

MONUMENTS (Large River)  •  Kate Campbell

A keen sighted, quintessentially Southern treasure. Not just a preacher's daughter, but the daughter of the President of the Southern Baptist Convention. Kate's last record, Wandering Strange, featured new readings of traditional gospel songs and hymns from that tradition.

This former history professor frequently works from a theme for each new recording. Monuments was inspired by the Nashville folk artist William Edmondson (see more about him here) and the cover is a photo of his sculpture yard. Kate grew up in the eye of the civil rights storm, and "How Much Can One Heart Hold" is a Martin Luther King song. All the songs are Southern portraits. "Yellow Guitar" tells of a hitchhiker "posing like some delta ghost," and one of two co-written with Kate's husband Ira speaks to the irony of sitting in "Joe Louis' Furniture." "Petrified House" portrays an aging southern woman in "a room of a mansion downtown" who refuses to believe that the world around her has changed, convinced that "it's all lies made up by New York Jews." And the author, sipping a nonfat latte at Starbucks, reflects very humorously about living in the "New South."

Most of the songs were co-written with Kate's producer and longtime friend Walt Aldridge, a very respected player and songwriter. He played bass, guitars, keyboards, oud (I, for one, never thought about anyone in Muscle Shoals playing the oud), sang, programmed drums, and played mandolin. They met a decade ago when Kate was a staff writer at Fame Music in Muscle Shoals, AL, where Aldridge is based and where this and other Kate records were made.

Kate Campbell is a very special singer. You'll hear it on the Listen page. It's one of those pure, clear, steady voices that you can hear resonating in your own body as you listen. It's a beautiful vessel to behold live, and the artist plays constantly, all over the world, to the tune of 300 dates a year. Following her days at Compass Records, she and husband Ira established Large River Records, and this is their second release. She's got a great team of people around her, and a global following that assures the kind of long and steady career (this is already her sixth record) to which all singer songwriters aspire. If you're not a fan already, get on to this great artist via the clips, and buy Monuments here. • FG

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