An Interview With Dori Freeman

Q & A with highly talented Appalachian singer songwriter Dori Freeman


By Rob Dickens


RD: Hi Dori. Congratulations on your new album Letters Never Read.  It seems like you are stretching beyond your Appalachian roots into a more diverse collection of songs.  Would you agree? Was that a conscious decision or did it just evolve that way during the album’s development?


DF: It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I wanted to try to continue the sound of the first record, but also showcase of few more Traditional tunes to reflect my Appalachian upbringing. I thought it would be nice to mix in a song my grandfather wrote (“Ern and Zorry’s Sneakin’ Bitin’ Dog”) and the gospel song “Over There” with some originals.


RD: I imagine it was a pretty easy decision to turn to Teddy Thompson again as producer given the wonderful results you achieved together for the previous album?


DF: Yes, I never really even considered working with anyone else. I knew as soon as we finished the first record that I wanted to work with him again if he was so inclined.


RD: And no doubt Teddy was instrumental in enlisting his father, guitar hero Richard Thompson, who provides his intricate playing on a couple of the tracks.  It must have been a thrill to collaborate with such a legend?


DF: Of course. He was the perfect choice for that song since it’s a ballad of sorts much like the songs he used to play in Fairport Convention. We also thought it would be a nice nod to the fact that we both grew up in musical families.


RD: Tell me how the other talented guests, Aiofe O’Donovan and Kacy & Clayton, got involved in the project


DF: On our way to New York City to record the album, my husband Nicholas and I were coincidentally seated next to A’iofe and she and Nick already knew each other from the same circle of friends in music. We chatted the whole flight and the next day I texted her and asked if she would be willing to come sing harmony on a track and she thankfully said yes.

I’m a massive fan of Kacy and Clayton and really wanted to sing with Kacy on the record. Her vocals and Clayton’s guitar picking on “Bright Lights” are one of my favorite additions to the album.


RD: The opening track (and single) “If I Could Make You My Own” is such a lyrically powerful statement of love in the body of a classic country tune.  Can you tell me the derivation of the song?


DF: I was listening to some murder ballads at the time and just thought it could be interesting to try to write a song with the same language used in those songs, but from the opposite perspective.


RD: One of the standout tracks for me is “Cold Waves”.  Your vocals are exquisite and the emotional honesty is intense.  How hard is it to lay your emotions out for the world to see?


Weirdly, it’s a lot easier for me to express emotions through song rather than talk about them. “Cold Waves” is my expression of what depression sometimes feels like.


RD: On the contrary, there’s the emotional relief that follows in “Em and Zorry’s Sneakin’ Bitin’ Dog”.  I saw you perform that song last year. It must give you a lot of pleasure bringing his material to a broader audience?


DF: Yes, this is one of the earliest songs I can remember and one of my favorites as a child so it was really important to me to include it on this album. My grandfather and father have been two of my biggest musical influences.


RD: I understand that you were working in a local framing shop (the family business I assume?) before the release of your self-titled debut album last February.  Did you ever imagine such an enthusiastic and heartfelt response to that record?


DF: I was. And no, I certainly did not. I tried not to have too many expectations going into it, but I’m obviously very happy that is was well received.


RD: You have been on the road a lot, including two trips to Australia and I think I’ve seen you perform in four different cities so far.  It must be an incredibly busy but rewarding time for you?


DF: I love traveling and performing in different cities, but like a lot of working parents it’s definitely a balancing act between raising my little one and being on the road.


RD: Last one!  I will be observing a jam session next month which includes your father and grandfather playing.  It looks like you have a show that night about an hour away.  A talented family indeed!  What has it been like to have such a musical upbringing in the heart of the Appalachians?


DF: Growing up listening to my grandfather and dad play music has had more of an impact on me than any other experience, musical or otherwise. Theirs was the earliest music I can recall and they have always supported my decision to pursue music as a career. Growing up in Appalachia has grounded me in a way I expect not a lot of people have. I feel very connected to my familial and musical roots here.


RD: Thanks so much for your time!  I look forward to seeing you perform at AmericanaFest and/or The Festy Experience over the next few weeks.


YOu can read my review of her debut album HERE.  Stay tuned for our say on Letters Never Read.



Q & A with highly talented Appalachian singer songwriter Dori Freeman


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Author: Rob Dickens

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    • Thanks Weeping Willows. Glad you liked it!

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