Persephone Godwin
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Persephone Godwin


Band Pop Singer/Songwriter


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"Knoxville News article"

Friend's idea sparks vocalist's new gig
By Wayne Bledsoe (Contact)
Friday, August 31, 2007

When Diesel plays a solo show, it’s really solo.

The Nashville-based singer performs a cappella, sometimes utilizing a digital looping machine with some prerecorded harmonies and percussion.

The a cappella gigs were not Diesel’s idea. When a longtime songwriting/ performing partnership dissolved, Diesel was ready to cancel her scheduled performances.

“I play a little guitar, but I’m not a guitarist,” she says. “I’m a singer who can hack a few guitar chords.”

However, a friend knew exactly what she should do.

“He said we had to go to lunch because he’d had an epiphany about my career,” says Diesel from her Nashville home. “He said I needed to dump the band and do an entire a cappella set.”

While the singer had included some a cappella songs in her show, she thought the idea of doing an entire show sans instruments was crazy.

“After about 15 minutes of me telling him why I couldn’t do it a light went on and I just thought, ‘I gotta try this.’ ”

She decided to honor her impending dates but gave promoters fair warning. The first show, which was a house concert, went over so well that she continued on and has developed from a country-leaning singer-songwriter to a performer who sees few limitations.

Born in Kansas, Diesel spent 10 years in Maui before moving to Nashville four years ago.

“I sang from an early age,” she says, “but I grew up in a very conservative environment. I didn’t hear any music that didn’t come from a church hymnal. So many people talk about how they were inspired by their father’s record collection; my father’s record collection consisted of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and ‘Bozo the Clown Under the Sea.’ ”

Diesel’s father took her to Hawaii as part of her graduation gift and she fell in love with Maui.

Upon returning, Diesel moved to Florida to stay with her sister. While there she joined an a cappella choir that would break into quartets to sing Christmas carols at various functions.

“I was singing with three different people every night,” says Diesel. “You had to really develop your pipes and your pitch.”

She then moved to Colorado for a short time before making her move across the Pacific. With no job lined up and only a hotel reservation for a week, Diesel moved to Maui.

“I got off the plane and all my belongings were bursting from cardboard boxes,” she says.

She found a roommate, began singing in local clubs and soon moved to the island’s backcountry, where she had room to graze her horse, Billy, her constant companion for the past 23 years.

She calls Maui her “hippie home.”

“Maui is known as Mother Maui; it’s a very nurturing island that draws a lot of free-spirited, creative people. There’s a huge percentage of artists, whether it’s painters, musicians or songwriters. The color, the energy of everything around, you is just so vibrant and inspiring that it’s almost impossible to not create there.”

The hippie idea of choosing your own name was still alive among the artists there, and it appealed to her. She says it wouldn’t have felt honest to have taken “a hippie name” such as Sundancer, Starfire or Sapphine Moon, when her background was very different:

“A casual acquaintance suggested the name Diesel after literally catching the fumes of the catamaran off the coast of Ma’alaea, and it sank deep into my soul and hasn’t left me since.”

Following her heart seems to be working. She’s doing more gigs and less temp work to make ends meet. Billy, her horse, is healthy, and she’s now comfortable using only her voice to make it through a show.

“For me to take out a guitar would be watering down what I really do.”

- Knoxville News

"Wichita Eagle"

Performance-grade Diesel
The sweet singer with a high-test name returns to Kansas after a long absence.

The Wichita Eagle
Although she was born in Kansas, pop-folk artist Diesel says her memories of Hutchinson are hazy. It's the place her parents split up, but also the place where her grandmother encouraged her love of nature and her creative spirit. The singer-songwriter left Kansas right before her fourth birthday, setting off a peripatetic childhood.

"We moved a lot when I was a kid, so I didn't have a strong connection to any one place," she says by phone from southeast Kansas, where she's doing a weeklong residency at Coffeyville Community College.

Diesel uses words like "charming" and "rejuvenating" to describe her return to the Midwest. She'll plays two shows in Wichita this weekend, tonight at the Pump House in Old Town and Saturday at Central Riverside Park as part of the Acoustic Arts in the Park concert series.

She may be rediscovering Kansas, but her true muse is an island full of jacaranda blossoms, towering waterfalls and trails perfect for horseback riding.

"I was drawn to Maui," she says. "There was a culture, a creative community, where I could assert myself as an artist. It's impossible not to create there."

The island setting prompted her to write the ethereal songs that have become her trademark, and to record several critically lauded independent albums. Her sound is a little like Dar Williams, or somewhat like Suzanne Vega, with an overlay of New Age spirituality.

"My producer has always said about me that I have my head in the clouds and my feet on the ground," Diesel says. "I find a lot of spiritual connections in nature... that's usually where I get my inspiration."

When people settle on Maui, they often take a new name, like Moonflower or Dawn, the singer says. But she already had one.

"Even my mother calls me Diesel," she says, declining to give her birth name. "A friend of mine thought (the nickname) matched my personality because I'm a petite Midwestern blond woman (but) I'm a spitfire. I'm not always what people expect from me."

She pines for Hawaii, but after years of splitting time between the islands and the mainland, Diesel relocated to Nashville, where she and producer/co-songwriter Josh Whitmore found it easier to launch their frequent tours of the East Coast and Midwest.

"It was frustrating in Maui because it's hard to share your music with the world," she says. "I don't really fit into the Music Row scene, but there are a lot of touring artists based out of Nashville."

Having Music City at her back also helped Diesel catch the eye of an Atlanta-based label; she hopes to announce a record deal this fall and to release her upcoming CD, "Walking in the Valley of I Don't Know," soon after.

In the meantime, she'll savor her time in Kansas and make new memories with the family she left behind decades ago. "My cousin Julie is coming down from Hutchinson for the (Wichita) show," she says, sounding giddy. "She was the first one to buy my CD, before it even came out."

Jillian Cohan has never been to Maui. *Sigh*. Reach her at 316-268-6524 or

- Jill Cohan

"James Meyers"

I’m driving home from work, punching impatiently around the radio dial looking for something unfamiliar and pleasant to listen to, and I come across a sound that catches me ever so gently. Rather than trying to label the appeal in musical terms, I think I’d just call this quality kindness. Traffic starts inexplicably backing up, I'm muttering "What now, what now...?"--but here is this younger-sisterly voice saying something to me about surrendering. Maybe she knows something I don't. "Okay then," I think, "let's just shift down and stick around." (Fifteen minutes later we crawl past an accident, feeling lucky.) The station signal has been getting a little sketchy, probably straining from one of the college stations up north as I drive further south, but I stay tuned to it, hoping to find out who that song was by. Finally the fading DJ says, "And before that, we heard 'I Surrender' by Diesel."

Diesel. It seems an improbable name for a band with that kind of sound. But looking into it online when I get home, I find that even more improbably Diesel is the given name of the singer herself. And from Hawaii? Everybody has a story. Actually she's from the U.S. Midwest by way of Hawaii and now settled in Nashville. Big Bad World is her second CD.

There are a lot of artists out there whose music you'd love if you could only know it exists. Each time I accidentally encounter something I enjoy amidst everything I'm not interested in, it's like a little miracle. I can't even say what types of music I listen to anymore, now it's strictly on an artist by artist basis, just a question of whether or not an individual has and does something that gives me what my moods demand. I don't know what genre this album supposedly belongs to, but what I respond to is the way she sounds like somebody who'd make a long drive much more agreeable. (Having been introduced to Diesel while commuting may be partly responsible for this impression--hey, maybe her name isn't really so at odds with her music after all.) There's some pop in the writing and production, it's got a tenderness but it kicks as well, and though you can imagine her fronting a band when she plays live, she's probably mostly gigging solo with an acoustic guitar.
Well, that could be a million people, but Diesel’s got something all her own. Listen to the clips, they'll tell you what you need to know. And when you’re over at picking up Big Bad World, check out her debut album, I’ll Be Ready In A Minute, as long as you’re in the neighborhood.   James Meyers

"New Jersey Star Ledger"

By Peter Spencer

"I'll be Ready in a Minute..."

How refreshing. Here we have a female singer from Hawaii named Diesel who is not, on the one hand, a beer-can-chewing exponent of "Women's Music" and not, on the other, a crossover-bound Shania/Faith-style lap dancer. She is, in fact, a skilled, down-to-earth singer of great charm and appeal.

As produced by Joshua David Whitmore and recorded mostly in Nashville, "I'll be Ready in a Minute..." also splits a useful difference, in this case between over-produced bombast and the spare, old-timey esthetic of the "O Brother Where Art Thou" set. There are plenty of acoustic instruments in the mix, but without more-hillbilly-than-thou posing. Ensembles are anchored by drums, bass, and even strings, but overall the arrangements are focused and articulate.

Songs range from Gordon Lightfoot's folkie, elliptical "The Circle is Small" to the full-bore honky-tonk of Marc Rossi and Melanie Dyer's "Don't Water Down the Whiskey," with stops at more rocking material like the Glen Ballard/Alanis Morissette "Your House."

In the end, the one quality that ties all these threads together is Diesel's singing. Her burnished alto may have less twang to it than most Nashville divas, but the same sense of girls'-night-out coziness you can find in Patty Loveless, say, or the more country side of Roseanne Cash.

So it's a "small" album, drawing as much from rural Hawaii and the West Coast as from the Cadillac verities of Nashville. But it is full of solid musicianship, born of real experience.  And the flirtatious charm of the woman in front simply cannot be denied.

"I'll be Ready in a Minute…" is available at,, and also at PO Box 121376, Nashville, TN 37212.
   -Peter Spencer

- Peter Spencer


"I'll Be Ready In A Minute..." Debut CD
"Big Bad World" Sophomore CD
"Journey of a Girl" 2007 Release
All songs and albums currently available through digital distribution channels including ITunes, Rhapsody, Napster, and many more.

Sneak peaks and free streaming of Diesel's 3rd album and new material with her new band are available at

"Grace", "Gimme A Fix", "Jacaranda Moon", "A Little Off Today", and "I Wish You Well" are just a few of her songs that have earned airplay on public, college, and alternative radio in the midwest/southeast region where Diesel has toured as an acoustic duo.



NEWS: Performing Songwriter magazine, June 2008:

"When the first half of your EP is almost entirely a capella, you better have the voice to make it work. Diesel does, and her sultry vocals are a jazz lover's dream. Even after upping the ante with instrumentation, her sensual sway makes the music matter. "

Jim Beam Emerging Artist Diesel has been recognized by music reviewers from the East Coast to Maui. After moving to Nashville from Maui island home, she established herself in the region as a touring artist, opening for diverse artists such as Jeff Black, Garrison Starr, Larry Jon Wilson, and jazz duo Tuck & Patti. Her versatility as a vocalist has earned her spots at established venues such as The Birchmere, NYC's Bitter End, Nashville's Belcourt Theatre, and Birminham's Workplay, as well as appeared onstage at The Opry at the Ryman Auditorium with country veteran Hal Ketchum. An indie do-it-yourselfer through and through, when a record label dispute put her band and gigs in jeopardy, she took the stage solo, creating an entire A Capella show, pulling from her early experiences touring mid-Florida in an A Capella quartet.

First musically awakened by the soft strength of Suzanne Vega's delicate voice, Diesel's influences range from Stevie Nicks and Cyndi Lauper to Syd Straw, Chrissie Hyndes, Lyle Lovett, Sophie B. Hawkins, Paula Cole, Fiona Apple, and many more contemporary female pop artists. Her songwriting invokes more questions than answers, as she explores themes of survival, loss, heartbreak, growth, and more in her left-of-center lyrics. Over ten years on the island of Maui have introduced vivid colors and images of the serene, natural existence she idealizes, as Diesel writes about the contradictions of balancing a utopian ideal with today's reality. Whether co-writing with band-members or writing alone, Diesel's passion and perseverence is sure to be revealed one song at a time, as she interprets the challenges and struggles of independent, creative women in today's fast-paced, corporate existence.