Thea Hopkins
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Thea Hopkins

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A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Roberta B. Schwartz


Thea Hopkins possesses a voice and style that are so unique and brilliant that you wonder why the rest of the world has not yet caught on. She is sultry and sensuous, serious and playful, mysterious and fascinating all at once. She is reminiscent of the great torch singers, but also has a modern and contemporary sound which she shares with the likes of Sarah McLaughlin and Natalie Merchant. The bottom line is that she knows how to take an audience on a ride that touches the full range of human emotions.
Chickasaw is her sophomore release—a worthy follow-up to the classic songs of her 2001 debut, Birds of Mystery. Chickasaw is subtitled "American short story folk," and indeed, the many wonderful songs here truly do tell a story about people living on the edge of love, of luck, and of life.
An air of romance, of earth-shattering love and lust, permeates the richly sensual Rows and Rows of Stars. David Goodrich colors Thea's gorgeous vocals with his superb work on guitar and piano. This is a song you can just drift away on—you don't want it to end.
The Edge of Geary brings back images of a small-town childhood as it appears in memory. Thea's soft, sultry alto rises to meet Chris Thompson's harmony vocals. Ian Kennedy shines on violin.
Every one of us has a story about choosing the wrong lover—the one who is too good to be true. Once There Was a Lover describes just this kind of false suitor. It is one of the recording's best cuts:

Once there was a lover who found
Shelter in Jesus and all he adored
Thorns and desire, roses and fire
Was all his heart had room for.

The Weather Turns is so hauntingly beautiful a song that its melody and lyrics stay with you long after you have listened to it. Natalie Haas on cello helps to create an air of melancholy and mystery. Thea's voice caresses the lyrics with her special magic.
Dave Goodrich, on resonator guitar, opens the title track, Chickasaw" This is a classic song of love gone badly and irrevocably wrong.
There are so many great songs here, I could address each and every one of them. But none is as moving as the revised version of Thea's riveting Jesus is on the Wire, which has been covered by Peter, Paul and Mary. Here she paints a picture of an unforgettable landscape, and a day that will go down in our collective memory. This song is a modern classic.
The beauty of Thea's voice is matched by the brilliance of her lyrics. Some singers know how to sing and others know how to write. Thea Hopkins draws you in with her sensual, sultry voice, but keeps your attention by wrapping that voice around beautiful melodies and wonderful stories. She's a marvelous talent. Get lost in her mystery. You may never want to be found.

- Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange


PRAISE FOR THEA HOPKINS
And for her new AMERICANA / CONTEMPORARY FOLK ALBUM,
CHICKASAW

“Thea Hopkins’ new recording, "Chickasaw," puts her haunting voice front and center, and especially on her lovely self-written ballads, it's a voice with the mystery and power of the late, great Nick Drake.”
-- Susan Werner

“This is what making good music is all about! I especially liked ‘Jenny Danced.’”
-- Tom Rush

“Thea Hopkins is one of the most literate, poetic and emotionally moving of the new singer-songwriters to arrive on the scene in the last few years. Her song, 'Jesus Is On the Wire,' is a compelling composition with a riveting story-telling style. This is one of the most important songs we have sung in recent years." – Peter, Paul & Mary

“Thea Hopkins possesses a voice and style that are so unique and brilliant that you wonder why the rest of the world has not yet caught on. She is sultry and sensuous, serious and playful, mysterious and fascinating all at once. She is reminiscent of the great torch singers, but also has a modern and contemporary sound which she shares with the likes of Sarah McLaughlin and Natalie Merchant. The bottom line is that she knows how to take an audience on a ride that touches the full range of human emotions. The beauty of Thea's voice is matched by the brilliance of her lyrics.” -– Robert B. Schwartz, The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

“Immaculately played and produced, with narratives that drip with metaphor and imagery… Thea Hopkins possesses a voice that stands up to her material… The title track showcases the style perfectly, evocative and with a hint of menace. This is folk as it should be: dark tales, poetry and protest.”
-- Keith Hargreaves Americana-UK.com

“Thea Hopkins is one of Boston's treasures. Her brand new CD "Chickasaw" is pure delight from beginning to end.”
-- Kathy Sands Boehmer, me & thee coffeehouse

Thea Hopkins is blessed with a creamy, clarion voice and a vivid observational eye. Hopkins' poetic impressions and dusky vocals recall Mary Chapin Carpenter… Her gorgeous voice wraps itself like mist around country-folk songs of tenderness and substance. -- Sarah Rodman, Boston Herald
- Various Quotes


“Birds of Mystery” was named one of 2001’s Top Ten local albums by the Boston Herald. “A gorgeous dusky voice wraps itself like mist around country-folk songs of tenderness and substance.”

3 & 1/2 stars Local singer-songwriter Thea Hopkins is blessed with a creamy, clarion voice and a vivid observational eye. Those attributes, plus a little help from her friends, make ``Birds of Mystery'' a strong debut -- a blend of country, folk and pop. Catie Curtis lends harmonious help on “Western Town,” and Greg Greenway adds gravitas to the affecting ``Jesus is On the Wire,'' which powerfully takes up the hate-crime murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd. Violinist Mimi Rabson lends the dustily charming ``Down in Egypt'' a smoky quality, and John Curtis contributes a sunny, comforting guitar solo to the lovely romantic ballad ``Say You Will.'' But make no mistake, Hopkins' poetic impressions and dusky vocals that recall Mary Chapin Carpenter and Jennifer Warnes are the star attractions here.
-- Sarah Rodman, Boston Herald

- Boston Herald




“A refreshingly naturalistic songwriter with a supple, inviting voice.” -- Scott Alarik, Boston Globe

Clarity and poise… Among the more striking passages are "Jesus is On the Wire," a stirring ballad, and the haunting palette of "Blues on the Edge of This Town."
-- Matthew S. Robinson, Boston Globe

- Boston Globe




Thea Hopkins has one of the sweetest voices you’ll ever hear: clear, powerful, and above all, soulful. Hopkins also displays her songwriting savvy on “Birds of Mystery.” – Metronome


- Metronome


Thea Hopkins has a lovely, rich, sultry, soulful voice that weaves itself around lyrics of great beauty. She has the kind of sound that makes you sit up and listen and wonder where and when you can hear more.
Not only is her vocal style unique and different, but her take on subjects well-worn by singer/songwriters feels fresh and new.
Take the moment when lovers part in When the Moon Walked In. Hopkins describes the scene as "when the moon walked/ in that night/ when you turned in the/ pale cold light/ when the moon walked in you sighed,/ I've had enough of what you hide/ when the moon walked in."
In Down to Egypt she takes us to a place "that has a heart/ sand and stone, broken art/ It has secrets no one knows/ It has rooms, / Where no one ever goes."
The horrible deaths of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming and James Byrd in Texas have been written about in both prose and in song. No one has captured the feel, the place and the emotions involved as well as Hopkins in Jesus is on the Wire. Talented singer/songwriter Greg Greenway adds his expressive tenor to the verse on James Byrd - one of the CD's best moments.
My favorite cut on this well-crafted recording is Say You Will, a simple love song that showcases the beauty of Hopkins' voice. It features John Curtis on guitar with just a dab of Craig Harris on percussion.
Hopkins surrounds herself with stellar support. In addition to Greenway, Catie Curtis provides harmony vocals, Matt Glaser and Mimi Rabson are on violins, with Eric Kilburn on mandolin and harmonica.
This is music to dream by and to love by. It is music to listen to on a lazy afternoon or a rainy day. I would be surprised if no one takes notice of Hopkins' specialness. Even if you have a short list of must have CD purchases this year, add Birds of Mystery to that list and start singing her praises. Thea Hopkins is a star on the rise.


"I saw Thea Hopkins' showcase at the 2002 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance conference. Her songs are intelligent and beautifully written. Her voice carried me away. I could listen to her sing her songs forever." -- David Pyles, Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange.
- from the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange byRoberta B. Schwartz, July 2003


Discography

Chickasaw- August 2007
Birds Of Mystery - 2001

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Bio


PRAISE FOR THE NEW THEA HOPKINS ALBUM, CHICKASAW

“Thea Hopkins’ new recording, "Chickasaw," puts her haunting voice front and center, and especially on her lovely self-written ballads, it's a voice with the mystery and power of the late, great Nick Drake.” -- Susan Werner

“This is what making good music is all about! I especially liked ‘Jenny Danced.’” -- Tom Rush

“Thea Hopkins possesses a voice and style that are so unique and brilliant that you wonder why the rest of the world has not yet caught on. She is sultry and sensuous, serious and playful, mysterious and fascinating all at once. She is reminiscent of the great torch singers, but also has a modern and contemporary sound which she shares with the likes of Sarah McLaughlin and Natalie Merchant. The bottom line is that she knows how to take an audience on a ride that touches the full range of human emotions. The beauty of Thea's voice is matched by the brilliance of her lyrics.”
-– Robert B. Schwartz, The Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
Boston singer-songwriter Thea Hopkins calls her music American Short Story Folk: concise, striking narratives, they tell of American romance and tragedy in modern terms. She is as inspired by great short story writers as she is by songwriters. Folk icons Peter, Paul & Mary, (who recorded her song “Jesus Is On The Wire” in 2004) described Hopkins as “one of the most literate, poetic and emotionally moving of the new singer-songwriters to arrive on the scene in the last few years”.

Released in August, Chickasaw made it to the U.S. Folk- DJ list of Top Albums for both August and September, and is also being played on Americana and folk radio programs in Europe.Chickasaw, contains the work of pianist Tim Ray (Lyle Lovett, Jane Siberry), guitarist David Goodrich (Chris Smither, Peter Mulvey), bassist Richard Gates (Suzanne Vega, Patty Larkin), cellist Natalie Haas (Mark O’Connor, Alasdair Fraser), and guitarists Bob Metzger (Leonard Cohen) and Steve Sadler (Kerri Powers, The Swinging Steaks), among others. It was mixed by Chris Rival and mastered by the album’s violinist, Ian Kennedy. Among the 12 songs are two of a topical nature, a new version of her Matthew Shepard story-song, “Jesus Is On The Wire,” and the anti-war “River of Fire.”

A few of the lyrics of the album Chickasaw touch upon Thea’s ethnic heritage: Half her background is Native American, specifically the Wampanoag Indian tribe of Martha’s Vineyard. (Her late uncle was tribal chief.) African-American, Irish, French and Portuguese are all mixed into Thea’s heritage. In fact, “Songs From a Mixed Girl” was a working title of the new album.

Chickasaw is Thea’s sophomore album. Her debut album, "Birds of Mystery," was named one of the Top 10 local albums of 2001 by the Boston Herald. "A gorgeous dusky voice wraps itself like mist around country-folk songs of tenderness and substance," wrote Sarah Rodman.

In February of 2005, the nationally syndicated radio program "Acoustic Café" selected Thea's music for their monthly feature devoted to a new artist, "One To Watch." In 2004 in the Washington Post, Richard Harrington wrote that Peter, Paul & Mary’s album "In These Times" showcased "several promising new writers. The standout here is Thea Hopkins." (Thea's composition is the only new song to be performed in its entirety in P, P & M’s most recent PBS-TV show, the career retrospective, "Carry It On.") In 2004, Thea's song "Western Town" was included in the CD "The Best of Boston Songwriters." In the years 2003 though 2007, Thea received ASCAP Plus awards for songwriting.
She won 2nd place in the 2004 Boston Folk Festival songwriter contest.

Thea has opened for Richie Havens, Maura O'Connell, John Hammond, Ellis Paul, Susan Werner, and has performed in 12 states in the U.S., including Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival.