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 Worden 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. This Is My Hand, her fourth album, marks a confident return to rock music, one informed by her mastery of composition and a new exploration into the electronic.
Born in diamond-rich Arkansas and then raised all around the country, Worden 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 joining Sufjan Stevens’ Illinoisemakers live ensemble. Asthmatic Kitty Records released her debut album, Bring Me The Workhorse in 2006, A Thousand Sharks’ Teeth in 2008, and 2011’s All Things Will Unwind, which featured songs written for the chamber ensemble yMusic.
In between MBD, well-known fans became collaborators, and collaborative projects amassed. Among a legion of extra-curricular stage performances and recordings, highlights of her work have included singing in Laurie Anderson’s 2008 show Homeland; delivering guest vocals on The Decemberists’ 2009 Hazards of Love album, then touring with them; performing in Bryce and Aaron Dessner’s multi-media presentation The Long Count; singing and recording for Pulitzer Prize winning composer David Lang; singing in Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Penelope and Unremembered; and work with David Byrne (on his concept musical Here Lies Love), Fat Boy Slim, Bon Iver, and The Blind Boys of Alabama.
Another recent audio-visual collaboration was her appearance in Matthew Barney and Jonathan Bepler’s six-hour long cine-opera, River of Fundament, set in the automobile factories of latter-day Detroit, provided key inspiration for the new My Brightest Diamond album, This is My Hand. Produced by Shara herself and keyboardist Zac Rae, the album is a bold chapter in the unfurling MBD story. What follows is a Shara-choreographed whirlwind of horns, woodwinds, beats, vibraphone and synths. She reflected on the great, big spaces where she'd seen music bring people together—not just music halls and dance floors, but firesides and churches, and the grounds stomped by marching bands, and created music big enough to fill them all.
“Diamonds,” Shara sings, “so wild I cannot tame them / so shiny I cannot name them.”