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First Watch: Jade Bird, 'Cathedral'

Jade Bird on "Cathedral."
Shervin Lainez
Courtesy of the artist
Jade Bird on "Cathedral."

Coming to America to record her first official music seems so appropriate when you first hear to 19-year-old British singer Jade Bird. Her phrasing and accent feel as if they'd be as at home in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York as they would on Nashville radio.

In fact, a lot about Jade Bird's music seems vastly appropriate — the title of her just-released debut EP is called Something American, those five songs recorded, of course, in the U.S., while the song and video for "Cathedral" was done upstate New York at Dreamland Studios. Dreamland is a converted church turned recording studio.

Tobias Ross-Southall, the director of this video, told us he was simply hoping to capture Jade and her backing band's live performance energy. "Long tracking shots further emphasize the emotion," he says, "and hopefully gives the viewer the feeling they are there, as if they have stumbled across Jade's session."

The talent on tap at for Jade's debut record included Sara Lee on bass, known for her work with everyone from Gang of Four, B-52's and Indigo Girls, and Larry Campbell on guitar, famously known for his work with Bob Dylan and Levon Helm. For this live session we see drummer Matt Johnson, Will Rees on guitar, David Baron on keys and Jesske Hume on bass.

"I have been completely in awe playing with the most talented and welcoming musicians, I thought it would be insane not to capture the moment," she writes. "I hope I'm not sealing my own fate singing a song about jilting someone at the altar in a converted church — a snake did make its way past the doors as we arrived — but I'm extremely proud of how this song has turned out. I couldn't be more grateful to set my foundations with this EP and these incredible people."

Jade Bird is making the rounds; she'll have her public performance debut this week at New York's Rockwood Music Hall, then to Nashville for four shows, then to Los Angeles for a few shows at Hotel Café. In the fall she's planned a more extensive tour, including dates with Son Little. I'm looking forward to hearing that voice in a nice, intimate room.

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In 1988, a determined Bob Boilen started showing up on NPR's doorstep every day, looking for a way to contribute his skills in music and broadcasting to the network. His persistence paid off, and within a few weeks he was hired, on a temporary basis, to work for All Things Considered. Less than a year later, Boilen was directing the show and continued to do so for the next 18 years.