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In her music, Martha Redbone expresses the importance of authenticity and cultural identity, as well as the ways we are all connected. Drawing upon her diverse American heritage, she creates a captivating blend of rustic folk and modern retro, encouraging listeners to rethink their relationships between culture and self.

Before her intimate Naked Soul performance this Friday, August 21, Redbone spoke with us about her Appalachian background, her own inspirations in life and art, and why the Rubin Museum is the “perfect fit” for her music:

What other art forms influence your music?

Pottery and basket weaving are a huge part of our Southeastern Cherokee/Shawnee/Choctaw culture. The idea of weaving itself is a creative process that I associate with making music that celebrates my multicultural background.

Who are your inspirations?

I have many inspirations. In a nutshell, I am constantly inspired by people who are active in their communities and help contribute to the voices of their homelands. In music, it’s the many artists whose voices and music help define their culture or define a movement that supports change. In art, it’s writers and painters who raise awareness and give us a new perspective on something we thought we were familiar with—or something that has never been done before—this is what inspires me.

What makes the Rubin a good fit for you and your music?

The Rubin Museum is the perfect fit for my music. I come from mountain people and farming culture; we have various traditions with which my parents and grandparents were raised. The mountain culture of people in China, India, and Tibet have very similar customs to my own Appalachian culture, making the world smaller than I ever imagined. We are all related!

What can visitors expect at your performance?

Our performance at the Rubin will be fun, congregational singing with the intimacy of a simple trio: Aaron Whitby on piano, Charlie Burnham on violin, and me on hand and foot percussion, playing traditional, mountain, gospel, and blues. We make a joyful noise!

What appeals to you about performing in a museum?

I appreciate that museums have music programming—museums over time have developed reputations of being stoic, formal institutions that can be intimidating. The Rubin Museum is a very unique one and it’s beautifully designed. I’m thrilled that many museums are now showcasing music in all genres. They draw audiences who might not normally visit a museum and regenerate a new appreciation.

See Martha Redbone’s Naked Soul concert on Friday, August 21.

About the Musician

Martha Redbone’s award-winning music blends Native American elements with funk, Appalachian folk, and Piedmont blues. Her diverse musical influences reflect her family roots, which stretch from Clinch Mountain in Virginia to Harlan County in Kentucky to Brooklyn and beyond.