“Just your
run of the mill,
post-structuralist
cowgirl Americana…”
Crooked Creek presents Winona Wilde!
Thursday, May 17 at 7:00PM

Photo by Brandon Albert, Flare Magazine

“Over simple, well-worn chords, Wilde’s voice sounds weary and wise, and yet still full of life…Her storytelling binds together personal experience and political ideas in relatable ways, the way only the best songwriting can.”

–  Peter Ellman, Exclaim

Crooked Creek Concert Association presents 2017 Kerrville NewFolk Songwriting Award winner Winona Wilde, who will perform at the Roots Music Palace of the Ozarks, Harrison, Arkansas’s historic Lyric Theater, on May 17 at 7:00PM, with special guest opener Fayetteville’s Elizabeth Scott. Tickets are available in advance for $10; at the door, they will be $15. 

Karl Magi recently profiled Winona Wilde for Spinditty, so we’re going to borrow some quotes from his excellent article there. He shows her love for the Roots Music fans and culture: “If I had known all of these people and festivals existed when I started law school, I probably would have quit instead of suffering through it. The sense of community I have felt from the folkies is unlike anything on this earth. It has made me a better person.”

It’s not having gone to law school that makes people wonder most at her rise to prominence in the Americana scene—nor even her being Canadian, since that’s “North Americana,” at least—but the fact that she is a Canadian of Iraqi descent

Photo by Sim Al-Surraj

who has so embraced—and been embraced by—Western “Roots Music”/Americana and its fans.

Wilde (whose non-stage name is Noosa Al-Sarraj) says that music was a part of her life from her earliest days. “I do not come from a musical family, but opportunities for making music always came into my life at the right time. As a little tiny baby, I used to sing my mother’s lullabies back to her, and as a toddler, I was really good at clapping back rhythms and freakishly repeating back entire verses from the Koran, so my mother suspected there was something at play there.”

Her musical influences are wide-ranging. “I grew up on classical music. My faves were the moody, dense composers like Beethoven and Schumann. I spent hours every day alone with the piano, deciphering the language. To this day, I can still recognize a composer from just a few bars of music. Nobody generally cares when it happens, but it always feels like a little bit of a fist-pump moment.”

“When I hit my teens I got all the way into older blues artists like Ray Charles and Nat King Cole and then started to experiment with the edgier stuff like Tool and Nine Inch Nails. I loved the melodic metal my younger brother Sim listened to, he got me into Opeth, Dream Theatre and stuff like that. The heaviness of my lyrical content might have something to do with that.”

Magi writes: “Her transformation into a country/folk artist is something for which Noosa has an interesting explanation. She says, ‘My parents both worked a ton so we had a nanny whom we affectionately called Nana. She may have had country music radio on all day, so my young brain had the country music of the 80’s hammered into it without my even noticing. When I eventually heard John Prine and Loretta Lynn as an adult, all of this country music came pouring out of me.’”

Photo by Mary Matheson, BC Musician Magazine

 

Eleni Armenakis makes it clear in her review of the Wilnona Wilde album “Wasted Time” that as much as her music can reach the heights and depths of introspection and social commentary, her music is not one dimensional: “‘Buy a Round’ marks a change in the album, as Al-Sarraj laughs into a pure country number that fittingly rolls in and around itself. There’s more of a folk sound to ‘Black Forest Black Forest’ before ‘To The Corner’ finds a balance between the two to quietly see out the album.” Armenakis concludes, “Al-Sarraj knows what she wants to say and how she wants to say it. Despite the title, she’s clearly not wasting any time.”

“The best introduction to troubadour songwriter Winona Wilde’s wry sensibilities is through her delivered-with-a-wink song, ‘Chick Singer’…She sings with both exasperation and good humour, because, as we all know, sometimes the truth is so bleak, it’s hilarious. The same autobiographical song also references the blank stares she gets from people surprised to see an Iraqi-Canadian woman singing country songs. Wilde, whose real name is Noosa Al-Sarraj, fell in love with country music thanks to a nanny she had as a kid. Her kickass songwriting abilities led to win an award at the Kerrville Folk Festival’s New Folk competition this year—one of few Canadians to do so, and certainly the first of Iraqi descent.”

– Sarah Boesveld, Flare Magazine, 2017-10-18

Winona Wilde will perform at the Roots Music Palace of the Ozarks, Harrison, Arkansas’s historic Lyric Theater, on May 17 at 7:00PM,with special guest opener Fayetteville’s Elizabeth Scott. Tickets are available in advance for $10; at the door, they will be $15.

Can you recall the first song you ever wrote?

From age 11-17, my subjects were mainly animals — for example, “Everything tastes like chicken when you’re not around,” a musical adaptation of Dr. Seuss’s One Fish, Two Fish, and a mini-opera about a donkey who eats spaghetti. Although one early song I remember went something like “darkness into darkness” and had some complex chord changes and a heavy subject. I gave it to my teacher and I never got it back, so I am really curious about what was going on in that song. Perhaps she passed it along to a psychiatrist.

– Interview in BC Musician Magazine, 2015-11-07

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