MISSY WERNER - TURN THIS HEART AROUND
If your earliest childhood memory is dancing around in your room with a doll, singing along to Loretta Lynn, it’s a safe bet you were born to play music. In MISSY WERNER’s case she’s never stopped playing, though she’s traded the doll for a mandolin and an effortlessly powerful voice. After being brought up in and around the music of her family, she now releases her latest album of bluegrass and Americana songs, TURN THIS HEART AROUND, pulling together some of the brightest lights in American roots music to help her realize her vision.
Born to Kentucky natives, Werner was raised in Cincinnati, OH. Both her parents played in a bluegrass band and their music rubbed off on her from a young age. She learned guitar from age eight, studied fiddle in her adolescence, and eventually joined the band with her parents at 15. In her junior year of college she got a call from her father telling her that the band’s mandolinist quit and that she’d need to learn the instrument for a show only six-weeks away. So she grabbed the mandolin her uncle once won at a raffle for $5, and, as if studying for exams weren’t enough, she threw herself at the instrument. “It never occurred to Daddy that I might not be able to do it,” she says. “His faith in me inspired faith in myself. I’ve been playing mandolin ever since.”
In addition to her mandolin and lead vocals, Missy Werner’s band includes Tim Strong on guitar, Jeff Roberts on banjo, long-time friend and occasional bandmate Brandon Godman on fiddle, and Missy’s husband Artie Werner on bass, with all of them sharing their voices as well. But true to the bluegrass community, there are plenty more fingers at play here. “I love bluegrass because it is so inclusive,” Werner says. “Join in and pick up an instrument. Anywhere you see bluegrass, you are likely to see someone showing someone else a chord or a phrase, whether it be at the beginner level or beyond.” Werner’s joy for bluegrass oozes with genuine humility; in her eyes her success is owed to the sharing, teaching, and learning community of which she’s a part. But don’t be fooled: Missy Werner is as strong a musician as they come, both as a vocalist and an instrumentalist, and her wisdom as an artist shows itself in aligning with producer and long-time friend Jon Weisberger (IBMA Songwriter of the Year 2012), who curates and pulls together mostly-new songs from at least eighteen songwriters. They include Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame nominee Bob Morrison, reigning IBMA songwriter of the year Eric Gibson, Paula Breedlove (Brad Davis, Marie Osmond), Mark Simos (Alison Krauss, Laurie Lewis), and Gretchen Peters (Martina McBride). Plus, Weisberger contributes a few of his own compositions as well.
On Turn This Heart Around, Werner is joined by some very special guests, like bluegrass wunderkind Sierra Hull who lends her talents on mandolin and octave mandolin and one of her own co-compositions, “A Song That I Love.” The voice of Americana songwriter Sarah Siskind (Alison Krauss, Bon Iver) joins Missy on her haunting song, “Wish I Was.” Larry Cordle, who co-wrote “Dead Man Walking,” also joins Werner on the song. Jeremy Garrett (The Infamous Stringdusters) sings lead on an all-quartet Gospel song, “Travelin’ Light”, with Charlie Cushman accompanying on finger-style guitar. This is quite the august musical collective and the album is full of surprises around every corner.
Turn This Heart Around is not just about family, or tradition, or even great music, though it is certainly all of those things and more. It is bluegrass at its core, always teaching, always learning, always sharing. It’s a father’s confidence that his daughter can learn on the fly. Turn This Heart Around is no album of covers, but rather the fruit of a community ideology of bluegrass music that reaches back many years, as vibrant today as it’s ever been, and Missy Werner’s voice owns every word and commands every note on this album. This is what she was raised to know and love.
MISSY WERNER ANNOUNCES ALBUM RELEASE DATE, SENDS "ROCKS IN THE RIVER" SINGLE TO RADIO
In tandem with the announcement of a July 1st release date for her latest album, Turn This Heart Around, Cincinnati area singer and bandleader Missy Werner is heading for the airwaves with the project’s second single, “Rocks In The River,” available today to broadcasters via AirplayDirect. The song, an ode to enduring love, follows the album’s first single, “I Always Do,” which reached #3 on the Bluegrass Today airplay chart late last year.
Written by IBMA Songwriter of the Year Eric Gibson—it’s his first “outside” cut—“Rocks In The River” is drawn from the half of Turn This Heart Around that features Werner on mandolin, with her Missy Werner Band (banjo man Jeff Roberts, guitarist Tim Strong and bass player Artie Werner) and fiddler Brandon Godman. Another half-dozen of the album’s cuts, including “I Always Do,” presents Werner purely as a vocalist, with support from an all-star group assembled by producer Jon Weisberger, while a traditional-style gospel quartet made with still another all-star cast rounds out the project.
Like its predecessor, Three Kinds Of Lonesome, Turn This Heart Around relies on contributions from a broad range of modern bluegrass and country songwriters, as well as new version of two bluegrass classics, “I Just Got Wise” (Carter Stanley) and “Rough Edges,” written by the late Randall Hylton. But whether old or new, edgy or straight-up traditional, each performance is focused on Werner’s instantly recognizable vocals, placing them in just the right setting to bring out the unique character and content of the song.
Missy Werner Releases New Single, "I Always Do"
As she works toward the release of her next album, singer, mandolinist and bandleader Missy Werner is offering the public a sneak peek with “I Always Do,” a new single drawn from the project. The song follows on the heels of her last album, Three Kinds of Lonesome.
"We originally hoped to release a new album around this time,” says Werner, "but as they say, life got in the way, and we’re not quite there yet. We want to thank all of our fans for their patience and understanding during the delay. In the meantime, I hope that everyone will enjoy ‘I Always Do.’ I’m really glad to be getting it out.”
With IBMA Songwriter of the Year Jon Weisberger producing again, the two sought to make the new project a bit different than her previous album. "Last time, I thought it was really important to record with my touring band,” Missy says. “This time, along with songs recorded with the band, we decided to include a set recorded with some other musicians that Jon suggested, too. Some were familiar to me and some were new, but they all did a great job."
“I Always Do” was written by current IBMA Song of The Year nominee Ashby Frank, and finds Missy backed by Thomas Wywrot (banjo), Megan McCormick (guitar), Maggie Estes White (fiddle), Sierra Hull (mandolin), and Weisberger (bass), with Stephen Mougin and Artie Werner providing harmony vocals. Like Three Kinds of Lonesome, it was recorded at The Rec Room Studio with engineer Ben Surratt at the helm. The complete project is slated for release later this winter.
THREE KINDS OF LONESOME
With one acclaimed album—the Dwight McCall-produced Drifting And Dreaming (2009)—already to her credit, Ohio’s Missy Werner returns with a sophomore project that highlights her ear for an outstanding song. Recorded at The Rec Room in Nashville, with award-winning engineer Ben Surratt behind the board, Three Kinds Of Lonesome serves up 14 selections that include under-appreciated recent gems, old favorites and brand-new songs from some of the best of today’s bluegrass writers. And while a handful of guests—Mike Witcher (dobro), Aaron Till (fiddle), Ned Luberecki (banjo on “If I Fall”), Jennifer Strickland (harmony vocals) and duet partners Frank Solivan and Chris Jones—contribute to the music, the spotlight falls squarely on Missy’s veteran touring band (Jeff Roberts, Tim Strong, Artie Werner) and on her expressive voice.
“Dwight set a really high bar with a great set of songs and performances on Drifting And Dreaming,” says producer Jon Weisberger, who, with co-writers Jeremy Garrett, Ashley Lewis, Lisa Shaffer and Jennifer Strickland, contributed four songs to the album. “But I was confident that Missy and her guys were up to the challenge of creating an album that they could live up to on any stage and in front of any audience—and that’s exactly what Three Kinds Of Lonesome turned out to be.”
From the sleek, contemporary lines of the project’s opener, “I’d Rather Love A Memory” to the closing reading of Larry Cordle and Larry Shell’s “My First Mistake,” Three Kinds Of Lonesome puts Missy and her band squarely in the finest of bluegrass traditions—comfortably rooted in the music’s past, yet vibrantly modern. Whether she’s matching voices with Chris Jones on a country-flavored duet, serving up a wistful, traditional-sounding ballad like Zbynek Bures’s “Leaves In The Wind,” tearing it up on the blistering “If I Fall,” paying homage to her influences on the project’s two bonus tracks, or turning bluesy on the Mark Simos-penned title track, Missy’s a singer who finds just the right way to bring out the essence of each song.
No wonder, then, that the Missy Werner Band was chosen for a coveted slot on award-winning WAMU BluegrassCountry’s live broadcasts from this year’s IBMA World of Bluegrass alongside major artists like the Gibson Brothers, Dailey & Vincent and the Boxcars—or that, as soon as Three Kinds Of Lonesome was made available to broadcasters on the popular AirplayDirect service, it became one of the most downloaded bluegrass albums of the month.
One of the brightest stars of the historically vital Cincinnati area bluegrass scene, Missy Werner’s already earned the loyalty of local fans, and the respect of her bluegrass colleagues across the country and around the world. With the release of Three Kinds Of Lonesome, she’s now set the stage for a much bigger audience to hear—and enjoy—one of the strongest talents to emerge from the region in a long, long time.