Christian Artists To Know: Iris Dement

Iris Dement
Genre: Country/Folk
Styles: Americana
Location: Arkansas to California to Kansas City
Label: Independent
Website: None
Myspace : None
Christian label: No
Category: The Light whats this?

The past twelve years have been tough on us Iris Dement fans.  A flurry of creativity from 1992 to 1996 rewarded us with three of the best country/folk albums in the history of the country music, and then she faded away.  With those three albums, Miss Dement beautifully articulated the honest struggles of believers in this world.  Iris Dement is as clear an example of the musical spirit we pursue at One21 as any artist I can name.

All three of her celebrated country/folk albums were released while she was in her 30′s.  The first, Infamous Angel caught the attention of Warner Bros. The second album, My Life, was nominated for a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1993.  Her third album, The Way I Should is a legendary break away from her previous lyrical style.  Her first two albums were introspective and personal; The Way I Should was highly political and attacked hypocrisy and class warfare in the United States.  Listen to “Wasteland of the Free” with a mirror in your hand so you can examine yourself.

Since her burst of creative excellence in the 90′s, she faded into the background.   In 1999, she sang four duets with John Prine on his “In Spite of Ourselves” album and earned a Grammy nomination in the process.  Ms. Dement has made frequent appearances on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, and appeared in the 2000 film Songcatcher, playing the character Rose Gentry and singing on the soundtrack as well.

In 1994, Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs performed Dement’s song “Let the Mystery Be” with David Byrne for the MTV Unplugged.   Here is Iris Dement performing “Let The Mystery Be”


In 2005, Iris Dement returned to recording with Lifeline, a collection of 19th century gospel and church music she released on her own.  Ms. Dement claims that the music contained here became her lifeline through a season of hardship.

While Iris Dement has slowed her musical output, the trilogy of albums recorded in the 90′s puts her at the top of One21music’s list of artists.  Her’s is truly music written from a foundation of hope and faith that connects with how we live our out our faith in this world.

Go check out more of Iris Dement’s music digitally on Iris DeMent

You can also get her CDs on Amazon: Infamous Angel(1992), My Life(1994), The Way I Should(1996), Lifeline(2004)

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