Folk Singer Talks of His Musical Collaboration with Author Barbara Kingsolver '77

Folk Singer Talks of His Musical Collaboration with Author Barbara Kingsolver '77

February 27, 2006

Barbara Kingsolver 2005.jpgFebruary 27, 2006, Greencastle, Ind. - "Barbara told me, 'I'm used to having 10,000 words to say what I want, but this is a very different kettle of fish,'" says folk singer John McCutcheon, whose new CD features a collaboration with best-selling author and 1977 DePauw University graduate Barbara Kingsolver. He tells Michigan's Ann Arbor News, "I found that really fascinating, working with someone who was having to adjust their approach so much. I think I'd like to go back and sit down with some of these writers and record conversations with them about how they write. It was all very instructive for me."

McCutcheon's new disc is "fittingly titled Mightier Than the Sword," writes Kevin Ransom. "Mightier finds McCutcheon pooling his talents with contemporary writers Barbara Kingsolver, Lee Smith, Wendell Berry, Rita Dove, Carmen Agra Deedy and Helen Prejean. In addition, he took poems by Nobel Laureat Pablo Neruda and Cuba's national poet, Jose Marti, and set them to music. He also completed a half-finished Woody Guthrie song and wrote new music to go with another Guthrie lyric."

Ransom continues, "McCutcheon's impetus for Mightier Than the Sword was reading an essay by Kingsolver a couple of years ago. 'After I read it, I thought, 'Well, she's laid out all the ideas I want to talk about; this really does deserve to be turned into a song,' ' he said. So he called Kingsolver and invited her to collaborate on the pensive Our Flag Was Still There." 

Barbara Kingsolver's books include the Pulitzer Prize-nominated The Poisonwood Bible, Prodigal Summer, The Bean Trees, Small Wonder and Last Stand: America's Virgin Lands, a collaboration with National Geographic photographer Annie Griffiths Belt. She also contributed an essay to the recently released Farm Aid: A Song for America.

Read more at the newspaper's Web site, and in this previous story.