“Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by children.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
“B is a brilliant young songwriter whose music moves me. Give a listen, you’ll be glad you did.”
Introducing B: Songwriter. Singer. Multi-instrumentalist. 17 years old. It should be no surprise that in 2018, folk music at its finest is being made by a teenager. B’s music is an acoustic mixture of folk, classical, bluegrass, an unsurprising blend considering the company this young artist has been keeping. In 2012, Amos Lee, in his headlining set at the Rocky Mountain Folks Festival, introduced 12-year old B to the stage to join his band. “In that instant, the lives of everyone in attendance changed for the better,” wrote The Huffington Post about that appearance. Since childhood, B has shared the stage with a veritable who’s who of the folk/bluegrass community, including David Grisman, Tim O’Brien, Chris Thile. "I’ve had the great privilege to play with some incredible musicians in my life. Rarely have I come across one who is both virtuosic and profoundly raw and soulful at the same time. I don’t think many people are given either, let alone both. B’s got it.” says Langhorne Slim. “It’s mind blowing to watch, spiritually elevating to play along with, and damn exciting to see what this incredible human has in store for us all.”
B’s latest EP, “Ghosts Underneath My Skin” was recorded and produced by Neilson Hubbard (Mary Gauthier, Kim Richey, Amy Speace) in Nashville, TN, with contributions by Will Kimbrough (Emmylou Harris) on guitars, Kira Small (Garth Brooks, Martina McBride) on keyboards and vocals, Eamon McLoughlin (The Grand Ole Opry band) on fiddle. Recorded mostly live in a few days, these 6 songs touch on issues ranging from gun violence to the refugee situation to growing up queer in America. Yet, this is no pedantic collection of political folk songs. The record grooves, excites, rocks and fills with memorable melodic hooks. B begins with this call to arms:
“How much pain is it going to take until we see each other as we are? Down to the marrow of our bones, we are all the same, we are all the same.”
Brave. Bold. Simple. This first song ends with a list, spoken quietly: “Orlando, Colombine, New York...Paris...Sandy Hook...Sutherland Springs,” crescendoing in melody to a choir singing the title line -- “We are all the same.” It is impossible to not feel the spine-tingling beauty of this song like an explosion, a release of ghosts, the end of a storm with a sun peeking out through the darkest clouds. By Track 3, we know we are listening to someone deeply committed to truth-telling. “Breathe” begins as a poem, a tumble of words over mandolin, guitar and piano, until B breaks into melody “and when I finally spoke those words...it felt like coming up for air. For the first time in 16 years, I can breathe.” It is one of the most direct statements of self from any songwriter, any artist, at any age, and it is exhilarating.
A Colorado native currently living in Boulder, B’s unique approach to schooling has allowed B to pursue what B loves from an early age. Homeschooled until high school, B began piano, voice and guitar at age five and mandolin at age eight. B will be attending Berklee College of Music in Boston starting this fall.
In B’s own words:
I believe in a future where every unique person and experience is valued, where no one is treated as less than, where those with more privilege use [their voices] to lift up those with less privilege, to give those who don’t have a voice the space to have a voice, a future of less boxes and labels, less kids growing up thinking they don’t deserve to live because of who they are, less kids getting bullied, less people trying to be something they’re not because they believe it’s the only way to be ok.
“Ghosts Underneath My Skin” is an audacious debut from a voice well beyond B’s years. We would do well to listen and follow as B shines a flashlight in the dark to those of us two and three times B's age.
Amy Speace, Nashville, TN. April 2018