Flowers of Joy Kate MacLeod

Video Premiere: Kate MacLeod “The Flowers of Joy”

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Americana Highways brings you this video premiere of Kate Macleod’s version of Jean Ritchie’s song “Flowers of Joy”from Kate’s 4 song collection The Jean Ritchie Experience. The Jean Ritchie Experience was produced by Kate MacLeod, and it was recorded, mixed, engineered and mastered by Dustin DeLage, Cabin Studios, Leesburg, VA.  It was mastered by David Glasser.

“The Flowers of Joy” is Kate MacLeod on vocals and acoustic guitar; Meya Collings on harmony vocals; Morgan Morrison on Bouzouki; Rachel Taylor on cello; and John Bryant on acoustic bass.

This video was produced and directed by Kate MacLeod. It was filmed in Harpers Ferry, WV, and featured Kate MacLeod and Meya Collings.  This important song is a Celtic style folk song rich with strings and meaning.  Kate has taken a thoughtful approach to this arrangement.  The video is joyful to watch as well, with the duo performing among the joyful yellow flowers.  

“The Flowers of Joy” is the fourth single release for The Jean Ritchie Experience. This series of singles is an introduction to a larger project that will result in a full-length recording. “The Flowers of Joy” was copyrighted in 1971 and was included on Jean’s highly lauded recording, None But One, released in 1977. None But One was Jean’s take on how music was “going electric” at the time. Jean herself told me that it was a controversial project within her close friends and co-workers, but that the record label strongly encouraged her to follow the trend, hoping the step would lead to new attention and greater record sales. The result was this stunning recording that won the Critic’s Choice award by Rolling Stone Magazine. Among the many notable songs on the recording, “The Flowers of Joy,” stands out for many reasons. It seems a calling for, and also a belief in, the end of loss and grief from war, and the hope of universal care for humankind. The lyrics are beautifully laid within a melody and structure that musically echoes the sentiments of the lyrics. The song moves back and forth, from a minor key to a major key, reflecting the juxtaposition between “flowers of sorrow” and “flowers of joy.” With the subject matter of this song being conceptual, I’ve produced it with an expansive sound, including layers of counterpoint vocals. The song is accompanied by instrumentalists Morgan Morrison on bouzouki, John Bryant on acoustic bass, and cellist Rachel Taylor who is a student at Peabody Institute. The harmony vocals were arranged by Meya Collings, a music student at Shepherdstown University. Working with Meya and Rachel on this project is a way of sharing Jean’s music with a new generation of people. Those included in the process are educated as to who Jean is, and are encouraged to learn about her work. This project is not a traditional “tribute” project, but an exploration of the worldliness of Jean’s music, which will result in some experimental productions in the future.  — Kate MacLeod

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