PLYMOUTH — Stoughton Mass. singer-songwriter Lori McKenna will bring her bold, raw and emotional voice and her poignant and profound poetry to Plymouth State University's Silver Center for a single performance at 8 p.m. Saturday, February 8, in the Smith Recital Hall.
McKenna started writing songs as a teenager and became a professional songwriter at the age of 27 years. She began singing at open mike nights at the Blackthorn Tavern in Easton, Mass., and eventually at her own shows. Working with then manager Gabriel Unger, she released four critically acclaimed independent CDs. In 2001 the Boston-based folk station WUMB named McKenna its best artist, and the Boston Globe honored her first album in their year-end top picks. She won the Boston Music Award (BMA) in 1999, performed at the Newport Folk Festival and won the grand prize at the "Lilith Fair Talent Search" which got her an opening slot on the Lilith Fair tour. Other BMA recognition followed. In 2001 she won the prestigious American Society of Composers and Publishers (ASCAP) Sammy Cahn Award.
Her fourth release, Bittertown, caught the ear of superstar Faith Hill who first covered two of her songs, and later covered a third as the title song of her 2005 album, Fireflies. McKenna subsequently teamed with Hill for an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show and joined Hill on her 2007 "Soul2Soul" tour with Hill's husband, Tom McGraw. Hill says, "I don't remember ever being impacted by a songwriter the ways I was with her ... her writing is masterful, with a pureness that is completely unaffected. The songs are such a great combination of depth and realness ... there's just this indescribable collision of innocence and honesty in her writing."
McKenna's fifth album presented 11 songs about the joys and hardships of everyday American family life (McKenna now has five children). While some of her songs are biographical, McKenna says she can also "... take a little piece of something that I've heard somewhere and turn it into a song written in the first person." Many of her songs are written at her kitchen table, with the familiar sound of her children clamoring in the background.
USA Today said, "McKenna folds folk, rock and country textures into wistful and wry reflections on heart-ache and faith." Massachusetts, McKenna's sixth studio album was released last year. She says, "I want to write great songs, timeless songs, songs that affect people."
Tickets for the performance are $35 for adults, $33 for seniors and $20 for youth at the Silver Center Box Office, (603) 535-2787 or (800) 779-3869. Tickets are also available online at silver.plymouth.edu.