New composition and recording project: "Appalachian Fall"
The Maryland State Arts Council has generously awarded me a 2023 Grant for Artists, which I will use to complete a 4th album, "Appalachian Fall." This record will consist of all original compositions, my settings of poems by my father, Michael Martin, whom former North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson called "the foremost meditative poet of Appalachia." For 30 years, Dad lived in a cabin he built on top of a mountain in southwest Virginia, a 20-minute walk (uphill) from the nearest road, without any modern utilities, writing and creating his visual art. Much of his poetry is about the people of his mountain community, most of whom had grown up in the now abandoned hollers of the Jamison Gap that ran underneath his cabin. I came to know all of these people during my visits from Piedmont North Carolina, where my sister and I lived with our mother. My compositions are my own personal readings and responses to this patrimony. I have already recorded four of these settings, with vocalist Jess Eliot Myhre, drummer Keith Butler Jr., bassist Steve Arnold, cellist Jodi Beder, and banjoist Gabby Cameron. I am currently composing the remaining pieces, in the hopes of releasing the album early in 2024.