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Aoife O'Donovan's "All My Friends" is a plea to women to vote and reclaim their voices

Sasha Israel

Melony Dodson talks with Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Aoife O'Donovan. Her new album, All My Friends, is released on March 22nd, and commemorates the passing of the 19th Amendment. Scored for orchestra, girls' chorus, guitar, banjo, mandolin, and voice, All My Friends will be performed at the Big Ears Festival 2024.

Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, Aoife O'Donovan, releases her new album today, March 22nd. Titled All My Friends, this record testifies to her belief in the power of the vote.

The project began with a commission to write a couple of songs to be performed with orchestra, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, which gave American women the right to vote. This commission led O'Donovan to the letters and speeches of Carrie Chapman Catt, who was president of the National American Women's Suffrage Association. As Aoife shares in this interview, the words of Chapman Catt felt timeless...and relevant today...and inspired O'Donovan to record a full-length album.

A song cycle, All My Friends is scored for orchestra, girls' chorus, guitar, mandolin, banjo, and vocals. The orchestrations are by composer, Tanner Porter, but all of the songs were written by Aoife. The album's title track memorializes the Tennessee Summer of 1920, when voices for and against suffragism battled bitterly over the final signature needed to ratify the amendment. In a presidential election year, O'Donovan's record is a cry to women to reclaim their voice and their rights.

Aoife O'Donovan performs All My Friends with the Knoxville Symphony Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Aram Demirjian, as part of the Big Ears Festival. The performance is Sunday evening at 9pm at the Bijou Theatre.

Additional information about the Big Ears Festival is at https://bigearsfestival.org/
More information about All My Friends is at https://www.aoifeodonovan.com/

Melony calls the beautiful mountains of Boone, N.C., home, although she was born near Greensboro, N.C. There’s just something about those Blue Ridge Mountains that got in her blood and never left after she moved there to attend Appalachian State University (ASU). While at ASU, she majored in piano performance and music therapy and began to cultivate a love for accompanying and for collaborating with other musicians. This soon led her to earn a master’s degree in collaborative piano at the University of Tennessee, which she attended from 2006-2008.
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