Almanac Music: Iris DeMent – What a voice!


I saw Iris DeMent for the first time at Bluesfest in Byron Bay around 20 years ago.


At that stage I had never heard of her but my friend Tony and myself were blown away by her solo performance on guitar and piano at that time.


She performed early in the day well before the big names  in the huge tent with very few in the audience.


Iris walked on stage and looked just like a bobbysoxer from an early 60s movie. Sandy coloured hair at shoulder length with a wave at the bottom, gingham type waisted skirt that flared to knee level and I think a short sleeved white shirt. She may have even had a bow in her hair.


Anyway she looked the good old wholesome chaste church going young woman.  Butter would not melt in her mouth! And very pretty! We didn’t know what to expect as she prepared herself to perform but as soon as started strumming her guitar and singing our mouths completely dropped. The voice, we had never heard anything like it before. We were hooked!



Check out one of her well known songs from her debut album released in 1992



Have a listen to this new song from Iris; a very powerful statement.

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About Colin Ritchie

Retired teacher who enjoys following the Bombers, listening to music especially Bob Dylan, reading, and swimming.


  1. Daryl Schramm says

    Yes Colin, I have come across iris DeMent a few times. A voice that draws you in somewhat, even though one could describe it as ‘mournful’. A story. I saw a music DVD in a shop window in Edinburgh about 8 years, that I just had to have, because it had one of my favorite musicians on it – Gerry Douglas. Anyway, it turns out that it was a series called Transatlantic Sessions that was broadcast on one of the BBC channels. Having established the price of the DVDs (not cheap) I bought the third (’07) and the sixth (’13), based on a few Q&As with the proprietor. Each consists of 6 half hour programs that have morphed into many hours of viewing, listening and discovery. I am now a big fan of Sharon Shannon, and Iris Dement (both appear in the third series)nalso captured my attention with songs titled ‘He Reached Down’ and ‘There’s A Whole Lot of Heaven’. YouTube also bought up ‘Our Town’ on a regular basis. Recent articles published here covered the passing of John Prine. Would you believe I’d not heard of him! Imagine my delight when Iris turned up with John during my discovery with ‘In Spite Of Ourselves’. I will be listening to the new song you posted a few more times as well.

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