Jimmy LaFave, Proponent of “Red Dirt Music”

“River Road” – Watch on YouTube

Jimmy LaFave was a beloved, Austin-based musician who blended country, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues into a form of Americana that became known as “red dirt music.”

Born in Texas, LaFave spent his formative years in Stillwater, OK, in the region that produced music legends Woody Guthrie, Chet Baker, J.J. Cale  and Leon Russell.

LaFave was a singer-songwriter and guitarist. He was known for his original songs and interpretations of others’ work. One of his most streamed songs is “Walk Away Renée” on his Austin Skyline album (itself a takeoff on Dylan’s Nashville classic). He recorded albums for both Rounder Records and Red House Records.

Jimmy LaFave, July 12, 1955-May 21, 2017

“Walk Away Renée” on Spotify

Dorothy Dorow, Vocal Interpreter of “Fiendish Works”

Des Hafis Liebeslider Op. 24, No. 5 “Der verliebte Ostwind” – Listen on YouTube

As her obituary in The Telegraph points out, Dorothy Dorow took on the most challenging works that “avant-garde composers could throw at her; awkward intervals, high notes, squeaks and squawks.”

Dorow had perfect pitch and a vocal range that could stretch four octaves, from coloratura to mezzo soprano. She performed works by Berg, Schoenberg and Webern and is thought to be the only singer to record three of Schoenberg’s most challenging works.

As if that weren’t enough, she learned to speak six languages and could sing in 13.

Dorothy Dorow, August 22, 1930 – April 15, 2017

“La lune solitaire” on Spotify

Kristine Jepson, Mezzo-Soprano Who Performed Worldwide

As Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo – Watch on YouTube

Kristine Jepson was a mezzo-soprano, covering the range between a soprano and contralto.  As a mezzo, Jepson sometimes appeared in male roles (such as Idamante in the above video). As Octavian in Der Rosenkavalier, she played a man playing a woman. Another role that Jepson was particularly known for was The Composer in Strauss’s Ariadne auf Naxos. (Some mezzo roles were once performed by castrati, who, for obvious reasons, are no longer in great supply.)

Jepson was a graduate of the University of Indiana Bloomington, which is known for its music department. The violinist Joshua Bell and pianist Jeremy Denk are also Indiana grads.

Jepson performed on opera stages around the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Teatro alla Scala, The Royal Opera, Bavarian State Opera, San Francisco Opera and Santa Fe Opera. Her Met debut was in Benjamin Britten’s Death in Venice and appeared as Sister Helen in the worldwide premiere of Dead Man Walking.

Kristine Jepson, July 20, 1962-April 21, 2017

From Ariadne auf Naxos on Spotify