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About Adrienne Young & Little Sadie
To Adrienne Young, its everyday choices – not grand gestures – that add up to a virtuous life, and shes crafted her sophomore album around that concept.
Fusing past and present in her pop-inflected old time music, Young applies a worldly compassion, a poets pen and a spirit of independence and self-reliance to The Art of Virtue out June 28 on her own Addiebelle Records (distributed by Virtual Label / Ryko).
Inspired in part by Ben Franklins Thirteen Virtues (justice, frugality and humility, to name three) and stories from an older and perhaps wiser America, Young expands upon the themes of cultivation and stewardship so beautifully asserted on her acclaimed debut Plow to the End of the Row. With Virtue, Young makes a statement both personal and universal, both idealistic and constructive.
The theme came to Young as she pondered the outcome of last falls presidential campaign and how moral virtues were leveraged during the election.
There seems to be a growing passion collectively and individually – to understand the foundation of our American culture and how weve turned from that, states Young. Personally, it steered me back toward a time when our country was rooted in agrarian ideals and words were powerful enough to begin a new world. Ben Franklin had such a practical approach toward nurturing virtue, the first point being nobodys perfect.
Art of Virtue – most of which she wrote or co-wrote – was produced by Young with able assistance from long-time collaborator Will Kimbrough and acoustic recording genius Gary Paczosa. Besides Youngs accomplished songwriting, the 15 tracks include old-time fiddle tunes reimagined for a new day, the gospel standard Farther Along, and the Grateful Deads classic anthem of renewal Brokedown Palace. The message is consistent: every choice we make, from the food we buy to the channels we watch to the history we do or dont preserve, has consequences. Our standards can be higher, she says, despite the many forces that seem to corrode them. Few songwriters can negotiate this terrain with ease and assurance, but Young is one who can.
Its a big concept but Young says it starts with tending your own garden, which she takes literally. Young endorses and promotes the FoodRoutes Network, an organization which helps people find fresh food from local farmers in their area.
On the CD, she urges listeners to Vote with your dollar for food democracy…eating is a political, agricultural and moral act. The land is in Youngs blood. Shes a seventh generation Floridian whose ancestors helped establish agriculture in the state, the nations second largest producer of fresh vegetables. But the family land had been developed by the time she grew up.
I was shaped precisely because I didnt grow up on a farm, Young said. I grew up in a house my grandfather built, on land that had been a farm two generations ago but now was partly a four-lane highway.
I really felt as a young person a large part of my soul was unfulfilled because I didnt have that connection with nature that was so bred into me.
Working on a Gainesville farm, Young started making other connections – between eating pesticide-free foods and good health; buying from family farmers and strengthening communities; and buying locally and conserving on gasoline and transportation costs.
People think growing your own food is some enormous challenge. If you devoted a total of 24 hours to tilling, planting and creating a garden you could feed your family through the season, Young said. Its those small efforts that make the difference.
With The Art of Virtue, its a message Young now applies to the cultivation of the self.
This time, its about inner seeds – personal seeds, she said.