Shara Worden, the operatic force behind My Brightest Diamond, sits down with Baeble to discuss the connection between songwriting and her formal training, and how that influenced her latest record, A Thousand Shark's Teeth.
My Brightest Diamond is spearheaded by Shara Worden, granddaughter of an Epiphone-playing traveling evangelist, fathered by a National Accordion Champion, and mothered by a classical organist. Having a family of musical wanderers who migrated across the US every few years, the landscape and the musical influences were constantly changing. Spanish tangos, Sunday morning gospel, classical and jazz were the accompaniment to her home life. Her first song was recorded at age three and by age eight she was studying piano and performing in community musical productions.
Picking up an opera degree at the University of North Texas, Shara immersed herself in the songs of Purcell and Debussy. After college, she moved to New York City to simultaneously continue her opera studies and pursue her songwriting ambitions, releasing two albums with her band Awry. Shara frequented downtown clubs such as Tonic, Knitting Factory, and The Living Room, catching performances by Antony & the Johnsons, Nina Nastasia, and Rebecca Moore and inspired by their use of strings, Shara began studying composition with Australian composer Padma Newsome (of Clogs/The National). After the breakup of Awry, Shara assembled a coterie of musicians to accompany her with bass and drums, strings, wine glasses, and wind chimes and thus the sound of My Brightest Diamond was formed.
A few years later, Shara met Sufjan Stevens at The Medicine Show, a variety show hosted by New York City's incendiary poet, Sage and man-about-town Joe Porn, at Arlene's Grocery. This, in turn, led to a sabbatical from her work, doing splits and round-offs (not to mention the human pyramid) as one of the notorious Illinoisemakers. Shara was quickly promoted as cheerleading captain.
In August of 2006 My Brightest Diamond released their first record, Bring Me The Workhorse, on Asthmatic Kitty Records to critical acclaim. The crepuscular album featured songs which distil stories to their most distressing points of contact: a phone call, an injured horse, a dragonfly caught in a spider's web. Shara's Manicini-esque string arrangements laced with dramatic guitars and punk rock drums defined the Diamond sound. In performance she showed unusual versatility, channeling the vocal theatrics of Jeff Buckley, the soulful seductiveness of Nina Simone and the gothic pop of Portishead. Her infatuation with theater and costumes inspired her to wear superhero capes, ball gowns, or Tudor corsets on stage, depending on her mood. Months of international touring commenced, leading Diamond to share the stage with artists such as Sufjan Stevens, The Decemberists, The National, St. Vincent, Devotchka, Tim Fite, Rasputina and more.
This year Diamond releases their sophomore album, A Thousand Shark's Teeth, originally meant to be a more classical, string quartet affair, the work slowly evolved and refined itself over a period of six years. Influenced by artists such as Tricky, French composer Maurice Ravel and Tom Waits, in addition to the star exploration themes of Anslem Kiefer's paintings, the imaginary landscapes of photographer Robert ParkeHarrison, films by Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Alice in Wonderland, A Thousand Shark's Teeth is a musical snowglobe that sparkles each time you touch it. The songs, whose themes broach intimacy, kisses by moonlight, laundry, lost friendship and more, marry vast instrumentation marimbas, harps, clarinets, French horns, rabid guitars, vibraphones to name a few to create an unequaled amalgamation of style and color. A Thousand Shark's Teeth was released in Europe on June 2nd and in the US on June 17th, 2008 on Asthmatic Kitty Records. - www.mybrightestdiamond.com