No Sierra Leonians Were Harmed
Shara Worden, owner of the positively angelic voice behind American chamber folk act MY BRIGHTEST DIAMOND, is no stranger to Australian shores. Her upcoming stint as one of many jewels in the resplendent Sydney-based Vivid LIVE Festival line-up marks her third tour down under and her second appearance at the festival. Last time round, Worden’s presence at the 2010 edition of the event was special for a couple of reasons; it was at the behest of two of her musical idols, curators Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, and she was in the final stages of her first pregnancy.
“I was huge!” she laughs. “Yeah, that was the last full show that I did [before giving birth]. I couldn’t really walk that well.”
It’s also worth reminiscing a little about Worden’s very first trip here in 2008. She opened for one of her fellow countrymen also on his first tour of Australia, a then-upcoming indie folk singer (you may have heard of him), Sufjan Stevens, who coincidentally also happens to be on the bill for Vivid this year. In what was too good an opportunity to pass up, I attempted to plant an idea in Worden’s head: how about Stevens joining her on stage to bust out an encore of Impossible Soul, the 25-minute long closer on his last album that she contributed guest vocals to? A reasonable request, surely. “Yeah! That would be fun. I’ve never sung that with him live. It’d be crazy,” she muses.
Collaborating is somewhat of a recurring theme when it comes to Worden’s musical output, which is certainly not restricted purely to her work in My Brightest Diamond. In addition to working with Stevens, she’s also appeared on tracks by the likes of David Byrne, Fatboy Slim, Owen Pallett and The Decemberists to name a few. With this tendency for frequent experimentation, does she consider herself a restless creative spirit? “A curious one,” she counters, after a moment’s hesitation. “Right now I’m working on the music for a play [and] I’m gonna be in another Matthew Barney film in the fall. It’s such a wonderful treat for me to be in a different role and it flexes a different part of your brain.”
Hearing Worden namedrop Matthew Barney immediately sets my mind racing. That connection leaves her just one small degree of separation away from Barney’s wife, the inimitable Icelandic avant pop queen Björk. Now there’s an idea for an interesting collaboration. “Yeah, I mean she’s amazing but what would you do? You’d just stand there and watch her!” Worden laughs. A genuinely humble response; little does she realise her own live performances tend to have the exact same effect on her audiences. She is a truly unique talent with a voice to behold; catch My Brightest Diamond at Vivid LIVE and you’ll see what I mean.
My Brightest Diamond play the Vivid LIVE Festival at Sydney Opera House on Sunday May 27. Tickets cost a meagre $45 + bf and are available from www.vividlive.sydneyoperahouse.com