Arts & Culture

Singletary Center to present Kentuckian Joan Shelley with Jake Xerxes Fussell

LEXINGTON, Ky., (April 4, 2024) — Kentucky-native singer-songwriter Joan Shelley and southern blues and folk artist Jake Xerxes Fussell are set to perform at the University of Kentucky Singletary Center for the Arts on April 6 at 7:30 P.M. The co-headlined concert will mark the final event of the Singletary Center’s 2023-2024 programming series.

Shelley draws influence from her home state of Kentucky, finding a musical balance between tradition and modernity, but she doesn’t identify as a folk singer in the conventional sense; describing her style in the phrase: “I witness life.” Shelley’s music holds a distinct reflective connection with life, but not so much in personal confessions as in nature and landscape. Aquarium Drunkard writes, “Joan Shelley has one of those lovely, water pure voices that can transfix you, whether she is trilling out an ethereal folk melody or getting to the gutsy pith of a blues song.”

Shelley released her sixth and most recent album, Spur, in 2022 and her newest single featuring Montreal-based songwriter Myriam Gendron in November 2023. Shelley has performed alongside Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Wilco, Patty Griffin and Andrew Bird, and is coming to the Singletary Center fresh off of her recent performance at Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival.

North Carolina singer and guitarist Fussell is highly regarded for his approach to traditional folk song interpretation. Deemed “the leading interpreter of American folk music right now” by Ann Powers of NPR’s All Songs Considered, Fussell’s humanizing interpretations uncover hidden meanings, allowing the pieces to breathe and share their truth, while also discovering personal connections. Fussell recontextualizes songs of the American South, bringing their stories and histories to himself, and himself to them. 

The concert will take place in the Singletary Center Recital Hall and tickets are available in-person at the SCFA box office, online, or by phone at 859-257-4929.  University of Kentucky students may claim one free ticket to the show by bringing their UK Student ID to the SCFA Ticket Office before the day of the performance.

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