The Cedar Presents
MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND with Tunde Olaniran
Wednesday May 8th, 2019 / Doors: 7:00 PM / Show: 7:30 PM
$18 Advance / $20 Day of Show
This is a standing show. General Admission tickets are available online, by phone, Electric Fetus, and The Cedar during shows.
My Brightest Diamond returns to The Cedar touring her new album, A Million and One, which was released November 23.
Not many people can front a rock band, sing Górecki’s Third Symphony, lead a marching band processional down the streets of the Sundance film festival and perform in a baroque opera of their own composing all in a month’s time. But Shara Nova can.
Her multi faceted career as My Brightest Diamond, which began with an acclaimed independent rock record, has reflected her journey into the world of performing arts.
Born in diamond rich Arkansas and then raised all around the country, Nova came from a musical family of traveling evangelists. She went on to study operatic voice and then classical composition after a move to New York City. Shara began issuing recordings as My Brightest Diamond in 2006, following a protean period in the band AwRY, and joined Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoisemakers live ensemble. Asthmatic Kitty Records released her debut album, Bring Me The Workhorse in 2006, A Thousand Sharks’ Teeth in 2008, All Things Will Unwind in 2011, which featured songs written for the chamber ensemble yMusic, and This is My Hand in 2014.
In November of 2018, Nova released A Million and One, co-produced with The Twilite Tone (Gorillaz, Kanye West, Common, Kendrick Lamar). The album features contributions from Earl Harvin (Air, Tindersticks, The The) and Vincent Taurelle (Air, Tony Allen, Nicolas Godin, Françoise Hardy).
A Million And One sprung from a period of personal transformation for Shara. It comes just four years after her marriage came to an end. (Literally: Nova translates to ‘new’ in Latin.) And was written during a time that Detroit was going through a rebirth of its own. Shara returned to Michigan in 2008 and settled in Detroit, a city whose rich musical legacy—from Motown to the White Stripes—has always been an animating force for her. This time around, she sought to honor the city with music of her own. A Million And One is an homage to the sounds of Detroit, a love letter of sorts, but also a visceral trip backwards in time, to Shara’s formative teen years. “The album examines the quest for my individuality and the search for a deeper relationship to my body, my neighbors, and to the planet,” she says.
Each gem-like song is distinct, from the anthemic opener “It’s Me on the Dance Floor,” to the techno-infused “Supernova,” which calls to mind the work of pioneering Detroit producer Carl Craig. “You Wanna See My Teeth,” is a twisting, searing meditation on the death of Trayvon Martin. The album’s ten tracks represent a departure from the lush instrumentation of My Brightest Diamond’s previous work and into leaner, more raw territory, with beats and synths. Shara produced the album with the help of The Twilite Tone (Common, Gorillaz, Kanye West) and it was mixed by Andrew Scheps (Adele, Lana Del Rey, Beyoncé). Anchoring each song is the relationship between Shara’s vocals and drums from Earl Harvin (Seal, Sam Smith). Reborn free of ornament, Shara’s voice has never been more vulnerable—or more powerful.
Shara Nova (formerly Shara Worden) continues to prolifically weave her way through both the experimental pop and classical worlds, composing, collaborating and sharing stages with Sarah Kirkland Snider, The National, Caroline Shaw and Roomful of Teeth, Andrew Bird, A Far Cry, So Percussion, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Glenn Kotche, Claire Chase, Bon Iver, and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus. Highlights include singing in Laurie Anderson’s 2008 show “Homeland,” delivering guest vocals on The Decemberists’ 2009 Hazards of Love album and subsequently joining them on tour, performing in Bryce and Aaron Dessner’s multimedia presentation “The Long Count,” singing and recording for Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang and singing in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Penelope” and “Unremembered.” Shara has also worked with David Byrne (on his concept musical Here Lies Love), Fat Boy Slim, Bon Iver and The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Tunde Olaniran released his second album STRANGER on October 5th, 2018 via his Magic Wheel imprint. The Flint, MI multi-hyphenate (singer, songwriter, producer, rapper, choreographer, author, activist & more) is a beloved fixture in the Detroit-area music scene and his recordings, live performances and activism have led to wide critical praise. In 2017 alone, he was a breakout performer at SXSW and toured with Sleigh Bells, his single “Namesake” was used last fall by Apple for their iPhone 8 ads and more. Stranger is the follow up to Tunde’s 2015 debut full-length album Transgressor. Written while on tour with Sleigh Bells, Stranger has the same fun and unexpected production as its predecessor but with songs that he could also sing with just a piano or guitar. He adds:
“ ‘Stranger’ is, in some ways, about anonymity. Being from Flint, you’re often anonymous; a curiosity at best and a ghost at worst.
The experience of becoming an artist in Flint was very disjointed and piecemeal. Few people understood what it meant to be an artist and nobody was there to give any real world advice. And this water crisis has engulfed everything in its wake, and it’s a challenge to exist as worthy of attention apart from the narrative of your tragedy. I want to stand on my art and performance, not rely on a backstory (“queer artist from Flint”).
I’m not sure if I’ll ever shake the feeling of being a stranger, being stranger. Even in the burst of queer talent that floods Instagram feeds and streaming services, everyone is thin or slim or muscular and white or lighter or more impossibly beautiful.
I made ‘Stranger’ to write and sing my way out of tragedy and also about being a stranger to everyone, including the people that love you. I’m not sure where I fit, but I know I do deserve to be here.”
In addition to his own work, Olaniran has collaborated with fellow Michigan artists including Flint Eastwood on her track “Push” and Mona Haydar, whose widely written-about track and viral video “Hijabi” was co-written, produced and directed by him. Tunde also worked with indie folk singer-songwriter and musician Chris Bathgate, co-writing and performing on Bathgate’s single “Low Hey.”