Mountain Mama

by Dianne Davidson

Released 2014
Released 2014
1972 Country/Rock/Americana
NOTES
To hear Dianne Davidson sing is to be struck by the notion that she’s the best damn singer you've ever heard.
While her catalog is filled to the brim with commendable music "Mountain Mama" may be her finest work.
The album is as perfect as it could be. It cemented her reputation as a performer with a powerful, emotionally direct voice both peerless, and gloriously Southern.
That Dianne hails from Tennessee is underscored by the album's evocative Rita Genet painting, as well as the inclusion of such regionally-influenced songs as Jesse Winchester’s "Brand New Tennessee Waltz," and her own self-penned title track.
When "Mountain Mama" was released by GRT-affiliated Janus Records in 1972 when Dianne was 19, its authentic feel sounded resoundingly fresh against the mainstream music of the time.
Today "Mountain Mama" can be regarded in the same vein as the principal recordings of Bonnie Raitt, Tracy Nelson, Linda Ronstadt, Bonnie Koloc, Jesse Winchester, John Prine, Delbert McClinton, Jerry Jeff Walker, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson who were each pushing the boundaries of folk, country, blues, rhythm and blues, and rock ‘n’ roll in the period.
As with these peers, Dianne couldn't be pigeonholed though she was most commonly referred to as a country singer. This is a lady that refused to be trapped in the patterns of the past or be entangled in the workings of the contemporary music industry, especially its stipulation that artists must be mainstream or categorized to be heard, and appreciated.
While "Mountain Mama," recorded in 16-track at the Jack Clement Studio in Nashville, Tennessee (with studio manager Charlie Tallent as engineer), oozes country rock authenticity at times, it's a long, long way from being country.
A plainspoken honest lady, Dianne may have grown up in the South, and may have been the first performer to cover "Delta Dawn," co-written by her friend Alex Harvey, but she never lived in the country. Never milked a cow. And her music primarily emanates from the Tennessee mountains where folks don’t much care about naming the music they play.
For "Mountain Mama” Dianne picked songs that went together. She wanted the recording to flow from beginning to end but—true to character--with some twists and turns. When she recorded her "Backwoods Woman" album in 1972, Dianne used congas, and pedal steel that caught folks by surprise. Among the non-country instruments on this follow-up are steel drum, and viola.
On “Mountain Mama” Dianne is possibly at her best on Tim Drummond’s “Lay Down,” ending and stretching the notes of its bluesy melody. And underscoring lines to reflect the hard won realization of a lifelong burning desire. As well, she exhibits an infectious joyful exuberance in “Carey” that was only suggested in Joni Mitchell’s original version. Then there’s the power and elation radiated in “Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way,” a magnificent song Dianne co-wrote with John Drummond and Mac Gayden.
Born in Memphis, and raised in Camden, Tennessee in the western valley of the Tennessee River, Dianne grew up being fascinated with music. Throughout her teens she played with various bands, starting at age 11 with a Top 40 cover band, Mad Martians, which entertained at school functions, parties and at the week-long West Tennessee Fish Fry.
By 17, she had landed the Janus recording deal.
Her professional musical education took place by parlaying strong grassroots popularity into a national, if not international, following. From playing to crowds in seedy West Tennessee bars to nightclubs, roadhouses, and concert halls in Boston, Philadelphia, all over the Southeast, and northern California, particularly in San Francisco where she has long been revered as a cult figure. She has also been embraced by Americana fans in the UK.
Over the years Dianne has performed with a wide spectrum of musical luminaries, including B.B. King, Jimmy Buffett, Tammy Wynette, Barry Manilow, Linda Ronstadt, Tracy Nelson, and Leon Russell. She has received ecstatic reviews from virtually every leading music publication you can name.
The pivotal role of Dianne Davidson in music history is that she and several of her peers helped bring Americana music to International prominence. She shined light on a genre that was slowly bubbling to the surface; that eventually found the foundation to evolve as a recognized source of popular music.
At the same time, Dianne has touched a generation of listeners, and brought joy to a lot of people.
Larry LeBlanc is senior writer of the U.S. entertainment trade CelebrityAccess.

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Mountain Mama