Interview with Martha Redbone, Harlan County, Kentucky

Martha Redbone is a Native and African American vocalist, songwriter, composer, and educator. Drawing on the tradition of her gospel-singing African American father and the spirit of her mother’s Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw culture, Redbone explores the boundaries of American Roots music and gives voice to issues of social justice. She draws from a number of genres, including folk, blues, and gospel. She has recorded numerous albums, including The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake (2012), a collection of William Blake poems set to the music of Appalachia. In her work in theatre, Redbone composed original music for the 2019 revival of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, the choreopoem by Ntozake Shange. Redbone’s own musical Black Mountain Women for The Public Theater addresses the ongoing environmental destruction of her ancestral homeland in Appalachia told through the lives of four generations of women in her matriarchal Cherokee family.
Interviewed by Tamar Sella, 10/06/2020.