I have been a music lover since childhood. I remember waking up one Saturday morning to my father’s impressive vinyl collection blasting from the den and asking him who his favorite artist was. He gave me a stern look and replied, “Honey, to choose only one musician would be like committing to just one flavor of ice cream for the rest of your life.” This was an excellent correlation to make to a four year old. Today, I find that this is often still the case. So instead of elaborating on my favorite artist ever, I shall divulge my favorite artist right now.
Abigail Washburn was a name of familiarity to me. A good friend of mine always raved about her voice, yet I never took time to listen to any of her albums. It was not until this year that I fully grasped the essence of her music after witnessing a live performance of hers. From the moment I heard beautiful resonating tones come out of this frail little woman like a canary on the first day of spring, I was hooked. Her use of dynamics commanded the room to fall silent every time her voice dropped down to a low decibel. I imagined her physically moving back and forth when singing into a studio microphone, the way singers were classically trained to do decades ago, because she was that good. Her impressive yet understated pipes paired with her banjo elicited the perfect eclectic combination of bluegrass and folk, resulting in a room full of smiling, “feet-tapping” fans.
Abigail’s amicable personality also won everyone over as she jokingly explained her lifelong goal of moving to China was interrupted at a fiddle convention where she was spontaneously signed to a record deal. Now that is just something you don’t hear every day! And speaking of China, she also performed an entire song in Chinese for us. How many Nashville artists do you know who can pull off traditional Chinese songs complete with cultural arm gestures? I was more than impressed.
Looking back after the performance, it occurred to me that I liked her for yet another reason. She possessed this humble quality that I rarely saw in musicians. Often times those with talent truly believe they deserve success and perform to fill some sort of void or need for attention. Not Abigail. As soon as she opened her mouth to sing, you could tell how grateful she was and how she performed solely because it was in her blood. And the way she talked about her life full of music and touring sounded as if she was just “going to the office” each day like everyone else. There was not a self-righteous bone in her petite body.
Unfortunately I am reminded of my father’s words as I realize that next month I will probably discover yet another mesmerizing musician. However, I will always remember Abigail Washburn as the uniquely talented, captivating, and genuine artist that I was overdue to experience.
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