Diana Jones makes a much-anticipated return to the UK to showcase live her highly acclaimed album Song To A Refugee, plus favourites from her catalogue and new songs written during the pandemic.
Once restrictions began to be lifted in New York, Diana continued her work with local refugee organisations; work brought once more into sharp focus by the crisis in Afghanistan. She was particularly moved when helping to settle an Afghan family of 5 children and their parents in their new home, and reminded of her song “The Life I Left Behind”. Similarly, the story of a teenager who had endured 2 years in a detention centre, despite having a relative to take him in, and had got through the experience by writing songs in his head and looking after the younger children, called to mind her song “El Chaparral”, also from Song To A Refugee.
Song To A Refugee was released in 2020 to widespread praise, including a 9/10 Americana Album of the Month review from UNCUT. MOJO magazine called the album “..a particularly powerful statement of humanitarian values.” A sentiment echoed by THE OBSERVER, who said: “Powerful and poetic; a record for our times” and THE FINANCIAL TIMES: “..a powerful combination of solemnity and feeling”, 4 stars. THE SUNDAY TIMES concluded: “If you found Van Morrison’s foray into current affairs more than a tad clumsy, Diana Jones will restore your faith in musicians as messengers”. The album also enjoyed extensive radio play, with BBC RADIO 2’s Bob Harris calling it “A very, very important record”.
Produced by Grammy Award winning producer and musician David Mansfield, who also plays multiple instruments on the record, special guest artists on Song To A Refugee include Richard Thompson, The Chapin Sisters, Jason Sypher on bass, Glenn Patscha on piano and Will Holshouser on accordion. The single “We Believe You” was added lastly with the help of Steve Addabbo (Suzanne Vega, Shawn Colvin) producing and guest artists Steve Earle, Richard Thompson and Peggy Seeger each singing a verse, Mark Hunter on piano and Joe DeJarnette on bass.
Watch the striking video for “We Believe You” here: https://youtu.be/G0NS9FGERCg
Speaking about the genesis of Song To A Refugee, Diana explains “The devastating election of 2016 had left myself and many of my artist friends unable to respond creatively. During the spring of 2018 I landed back in New York after a tour with no new songs. I had admired Emma Thompson’s work as an artist and a humanitarian forever. After randomly bumping into each other twice in a park near my apartment we had a long lunch and Emma told me about her work and her work as president of the Helen Bamber Foundation. I don’t think anyone could have called me out of my writer’s block the way Emma did and I began to write the stories that I found so devastating, one voice at a time. My own need to “re-humanise” the people who were being de-humanised by governments and the press resulted in a flood of songs.”
The resulting song cycle Song To A Refugee artfully considers the times we live in, speaks for those often without a voice and encourages a humanitarian response. One of the record’s strengths is Diana’s ability to inhabit the characters about whom she is writing, from the woman walking miles to the US border carrying her child, to the young children separated from their parents fleeing their homeland, giving an immediacy to their stories whilst illuminating the more generic themes within.
Diana Jones biography:
Award winning, US singer songwriter Diana Jones is known for her gritty, literary, Appalachian influenced songs. Adopted as an infant and raised in Long Island, NY, the fact that Diana couldn’t get enough of her brother’s Johnny Cash records finally made sense when she found her birth family and musical roots in the Smoky Mountains of Eastern Tennessee. Her maternal grandfather, who had formed his first teenage band with a young Chet Atkins, was happy to pass on the culture and the music that he loved to his granddaughter.
Diana’s first album ‘My Remembrance Of You’ (Proper Records) in 2006 garnered rave reviews internationally and set her on a path which would see her release four further critically acclaimed albums: Better Times Will Come (2008), High Atmosphere (2011), Museum Of Appalachia Recordings (2013) and Live In Concert (2016). She has toured the globe, including performances at prestigious events such as Cambridge Folk Festival, Galway Arts Festival, Levon Helm’s Ramble in Woodstock, NY, and Bimhuis in Amsterdam, and shared stages with the likes of Richard Thompson, Janis Ian and Mary Gauthier. She has also appeared on world-renowned TV and radio shows Later With Jools Holland, BBC4 Folk America, BBC4’s Songwriters Circle and BBC Radio 2 Country with Bob Harris. Diana’s progressive, yet historically rich, songs have been recorded by artists including Joan Baez and Gretchen Peters and have won her awards from Kerrville Folk Festival, New Song Festival and nominations from International Folk Alliance.
Song To A Refuge (Proper Records, out now), Diana’s 6th solo recording, gives voice to the stories of asylum seekers worldwide; a testament to Diana’s commitment to social justice through her gifts as a consummate songwriter and performer.
One of the first wave of major US artists to visit the UK since the first lockdown, she will play dates in September and October as follows:
Sept 30 Hebden Bridge Trades Club
Oct 01 Glasgow The Glad Café
Oct 02 Durham The Old Launderette
Oct 03 Wakefield Henry Boons
Oct 05 London Union Chapel
Oct 06 Liverpool Music Room – Liverpool Philharmonic
Oct 07 Nottingham Running Horse
Oct 08 Biddulph St Lawrence’s Church
Oct 09 Basingstoke The Forge
Oct 10 Bristol Hen & Chicken
Oct 12 Brighton Prince Albert
Oct 13 Birmingham Kitchen Garden Café
Oct 14 Milton Keynes The Stables, Stage 2
Full details and ticket links on Country Lowdown’s Gig Guide.