Elizabeth LaPrelleYoung Appalachian Folksinger
Honest American folk without revivalist baggage.
Ever since the folk revival of the 1950s, there have been two ways to miss the whole point of folk music. The archivists, dog-eared copies of the Child ballads in hand, can become so consumed with fidelity to oral tradition that they forget singing is supposed to be a fun, social activity and not a thesis defense. Meanwhile, the romantics like to pretend that they just stepped out of a Dorothea Lange photo, so wrapped up in the picturesque deprivation of the Depression-era singers captured by the Warners and the Lomaxes that their emotionally false performances verge on minstrelsy. Elizabeth LaPrelle is neither an archivist nor a romantic, and she's one of the most exciting young folk singers in decades. LaPrelle's voice is simply astonishing, a powerful but fluid instrument that's steeped in her native Appalachia without being hidebound to tradition. She sings not like she's Sara Carter reincarnate, but like herself: a modern young woman born into a close-knit musical family (LaPrelle's mother, uncle and aunt are three-quarters of her backing band the Fruit Dodgers) whose music overemphasizes neither her rural mountain upbringing nor her ethnomusicology degree from the College of William and Mary. That balance keeps her musically honest.