My buddy Charlie invited me to see Sufjan Stevens at the Wiltern in October of '06. I was never a huge fan, but I was excited nonetheless. Opening for Sufjan was a band called My Brightest Diamond.
A full string quartet, drums, bass, and the best part of all: a dainty and elegant girl with a guitar and haunting voice behind a microphone stand covered in white x-mas lights.
I instantly became a fan of Shara Worden and shortly got a copy of her 2006 debut Bring me the Workhorse.
The young ex-opera performer picked up the rock and roll lifestyle touring as one of Sufjan's Illinoisemakers while opening with her own MBD.
A few months later when I was living in Paris, I got tickets to see her perform in a rock trio version of MBD at Le Point Éphémère. During the opening act, I caught a glimpse of her standing alone at her merch table. I instantly abandoned my party and walked over. I introduced myself and engaged a nice conversation about the french, travel, music, celestas, music boxes, cigarettes, etc. She was kind and charming. For the first time in a long time, there where butterflies in my tummy to accompany the usual nausea.
On June 9th in New York, Worden sent out an e-mail that she would have an in-store performance at Other Music in Manhattan that same night. I made plans with my girlfriend and our friend to swing by. I was lucky to have been in the city then.
When we arrived, there was already a line wrapping around the tiny record store. At 8:30, the crowd started piling in to a tiny shop. Shara Worden walked up with a nicely decorated polka-dot dress and her string quartet followed. I was a good 4-5 feet away from her. It was crowded, but the intimacy of the performance was deep and exciting. The strings resonated naturally in a small environment, and her powerful voice was heard well, even without the help of a mic. She looked the audience in the eyes and smiled and sang to us.
Watch this short documentary about the evening which is posted on her website:
After the set, we hung around to greet her. My girlfriend and friend were hungry, but I insisted that we say hi. She was also upset that I wouldn't hold her hand around Shara Worden. At the time I didn't see it as a big deal, but in retrospect, I was being a dick. Sorry MK. I got a chance to say hi to her, but I was nervous because she was talking to me and I could tell that my girlfriend was irritated. I didn't mention that I had spoken with her in Paris and instead asked her something stupid about her new album.
I ruined my chance of striking up a fan/celebrity friendship. Perhaps next time... hopefully...
The next week, her new album A Thousand Shark's Teeth hit the public. It's a lovely album. Wonderful string arrangements over some 90's reminiscent grunge guitar all lead by Shara's wonderful vocals. I'd say the new album is a fusion of jazz, 90's rock, and classical music. She is an American Edith Piaf with a song writing style of Jeff Buckley. To be honest, I felt like a 30 year old woman when I first heard the album. It's very feminine. Some of the singing cries out painfully, while other songs like Apples have an innocent playfulness to them. Pick the album up and see for yourself.
It wasn't her albums that won me over though. It's her presence. See her live. I've seen her live in LA at a huge venue with about a 12 person band, in a small shitty Parisian venue with a guitar, drums and bass, and in a tiny record shop with a quartet. Each time, she managed to have an incredible sound and had the charm to win the hearts of everyone in the room. Though I've been to plenty of shows in my life, I would defend that Shara Worden is one of the best performers I've ever experienced.
Again, see for yourself.
-jc del barco ii
fan/teenage girl/bad boyfriend