Published on June 21, 2014 by Amy
Martha Redbone is an American blues and soul singer of part Cherokee, Choctaw, European and African-American descent. She has won awards for her contemporary Native American music. Her music is a mix of rhythm and blues, and soul music influences, fused with elements of traditional Native American music.
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Martha Redbone was born in Kentucky and spent time with maternal grandparents in Harlan County. She had maternal roots in Clinch Mountain, Virginia and other parts of Appalachia. She absorbed music from many local traditions: African American, Cherokee, Choctaw, English folk music, and others. Her father had a strong gospel music traditions from North Carolina. She grew up learning and exploring her Native American roots among Cherokee and Choctaw, and directed her music to absorb those traditions.
Redbone became a musician and singer, exploring soul with Native American undertones. In early 2007, Redbone’s Skintalk won The 6th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best R&B Album.
Her 2012 work, The Garden of Love – Songs of William Blake, sets Blake’s poetry to music that draws from rural influences of Appalachia: English folk, African American, and Native American traditions. She toured nationally in 2013 with what she called The Martha Redbone Roots Project. The New York Times said her voice holds “both the taut determination of mountain music and the bite of American Indian singing.”