Iris DeMent

Iris DeMent
Iris DeMent
Born January 5, 1961 (1961-01-05) (age 50)
Paragould, Arkansas,
United States
Genres Country, folk, alternative country
Occupations Singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, guitar, piano
Years active 1991–present
Labels Warner Bros., Flariella
Associated acts Greg Brown

Iris DeMent (born January 5, 1961) is an American singer and songwriter. DeMent's musical style encompasses the genres country and folk music.


Early life

DeMent was the youngest child of Pat DeMent and his second wife, Flora Mae. As the baby of the family, she was Pat DeMent's fourteenth child, and Flora Mae's eighth. She was raised in a Pentecostal household, but now identifies as an "agnostic Christian." [1]

She was born near the town of Paragould, Arkansas but grew up in Cypress, California, where she was exposed to and influenced by country and gospel music.

Music and career

DeMent's first album, Infamous Angel, was released in 1992 and explored themes like religious skepticism, living in a small town, lamenting "nothing good ever lasts", and forgiving human frailty. Her song "Let the Mystery Be" from that album has been covered by a number of artists, including 10,000 Maniacs, Alice Stuart, and in the opening scenes of the movie Little Buddha (neither credited, nor on the sound-track album) and has become one of DeMent's better known compositions. In her second album, My Life, released in 1994, she continued the personal and introspective approach. My Life was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Contemporary Folk Album category. DeMent's third album, The Way I Should, was released in 1996. Featuring the protest song "Wasteland of the Free," it is DeMent's most political work, and covers topics like sexual abuse, religion, government policy, and Vietnam. After a hiatus during the late 1990s and early 2000s, she released her fourth album, Lifeline, in 2004.

She gained some notice singing the Merle Haggard song, "Big City", on Tulare Dust: Tribute to Merle Haggard, a 1994 various artists tribute album. In 1995, her song "Our Town" was played in the closing moments of the last episode for the CBS TV series Northern Exposure, gaining DeMent more fans. (The song has also been recorded by Kate Rusby, Jody Stecher, and Kate Brislin.)

DeMent has sung duets with John Prine (on In Spite of Ourselves), Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris and is featured on the albums of many other performers. She has made frequent appearances on Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, and appeared in the 2000 film Songcatcher, playing the character Rose Gentry and singing on the soundtrack as well. In 1994, Natalie Merchant of 10,000 Maniacs performed DeMent's song "Let the Mystery Be" with David Byrne for the show MTV Unplugged. The song was included on Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure and Unknown Recordings.

DeMent's rendition of "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" accompanies the closing credits of the Coen brothers' True Grit (2010).

Personal life

DeMent married Elmer McCall in 1991, but the marriage subsequently ended in divorce. She married singer-songwriter Greg Brown on November 21, 2002.


Year Album Chart Peak
1993 Infamous Angel One of Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's"[2]
1994 My Life Billboard Heatseekers 16
1996 The Way I Should Billboard Heatseekers 22
Jan 2004 Lifeline FolkDJ-L Folk Radio Airplay 15



Other contributions

  • WYEP Live and Direct: Volume 4 - On Air Performances (2002) - "Our Town"

Further reading

  • In The Country of Country: A Journey to the Roots of American Music, Nicholas Dawidoff, Vintage Books, 1998, ISBN 0-375-70082-X
  • Don't Get Above Your Raisin': Country Music and the Southern Working Class, Bill C. Malone, University of Illinois Press, 2001, ISBN 0-252-02678-0


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ [Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.60)]

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lifeline (Iris DeMent album) — Infobox Album | Name = Lifeline Type = Album Artist = Iris DeMent Released = Oct 19, 2004 Recorded = Genre = Folk, Gospel Length = Label = Flariella Producer = Jim Rooney, Iris DeMent Reviews = Allmusic Rating|3|5… …   Wikipedia

  • My Life (Iris DeMent album) — My Life Studio album by Iris DeMent Released 1993 …   Wikipedia

  • Infamous Angel (Iris DeMent album) — Infobox Album | Name = Infamous Angel Type = Album Artist = Iris DeMent Released = 1992 Recorded = Genre = Folk, Country Length = 38:28 Label = Warner Producer = Jim Rooney Reviews =* Allmusic Rating|4.5|5 [… …   Wikipedia

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  • The Way I Should — Infobox Album | Name = The Way I Should Type = Album Artist = Iris DeMent Released = Oct 8, 1996 Recorded = Genre = Folk, Country Length = 50:07 Label = Warner Producer = Randy Scruggs Reviews = Allmusic Rating|3|5… …   Wikipedia

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