||This biographical article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2013)|
|Birth name||Deborah Foisy|
June 1, 1952 |
|Genres||Folk music, women's music|
|Occupation(s)||Songwriter, musician, poet|
Ferron, born Deborah Foisy on Canadian folk singer-songwriter and poet. In addition to being one of Canada's most famous folk musicians, she is one of the most influential writers and performers of women's music, and an important influence on later musicians such as Ani DiFranco, Mary Gauthier and the Indigo Girls.June 1, 1952 , is a
She learned to play guitar at age 11, and left home at 15. Ferron attended Total Ed, an alternative high school in Vancouver, graduating in 1973 (Thomas 2002). Of her earliest musical memories, she wrote, "my mother’s French Canadian family played music. I heard guitars and banjo and accordion and scrub board and my grandfather clogging. I put it together...music meant fun, meant love and laughter. I started writing songs when I was 10, never saved them after some kids at school found them and teased me about it. I wrote songs and remembered them and when I forgot them I felt they were not important anymore. The next time I saved a song I was 18. It was 1970." It was with that first saved song that she made her professional debut in 1975, playing the song "Who Loses" at a benefit for the Women's Press Gang, a feminist publishing house.
1970s and 1980s
Ferron subsequently established her own record label, Lucy Records, and released her debut album, Ferron in 1977. The album was recorded in a video studio on two-track equipment, and, as she stated, "the production quality was pretty poor". Nonetheless, all one thousand copies printed sold quickly.
1980's Testimony was her first professionally produced album, and brought her much interest in the United States, particularly in the women's music community.
Her 1984 album Shadows on a Dime received a rating of four stars (out of five) from Rolling Stone magazine, which called Ferron "a culture hero" and the album "cowgirl meets Yeats...a thing of beauty."
1990s and beyond
Awarded a Canada Arts Council grant in 1985 to further develop her musicianship, she took several years off from touring, returning in 1990 with Phantom Center. The album featured backing vocals by a then unheard of Tori Amos, and consequently is highly sought after by collectors. It was re-released with a duet with The Indigo Girls on the first track.
Between 1992 and 1994, Ferron released three albums on her own Cherrywood Station label. Driver was then picked up by Earthbeat Records, and was highly acclaimed by critics as a masterwork and nominated for a Juno Award in 1995. Warner Bros. Records signed Ferron which gave her great freedom in the studio to produce Still Riot with db Benedictson. She received an Outmusic Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards in 1996.
As a benefit for the Institute for Musical Arts (IMA), Ferron released Inside Out (1999), covering well-known tunes from the 1950s-1970s. She published a handmade book, THe (h)UNGeR POeMs, while she was teaching classes at IMA. She gathered some of her earlier, then out-of-print recordings to create Impressionistic (2000), a retrospective double album with a 24-page, autobiographical booklet. Her 57-page book, Catching Holy, Poems 2006-2008 is offered by Nemesis Publishing (2008) through www.lulu.com.
Ferron was featured in the documentary on women's music, Radical Harmonies 2002; a filmography on the musician directed by Gerry Rogers, Ferron: Girl on a Road was released in 2009 at film festivals and in television broadcast; and Thunder filmed by Billie Jo Cavallaro and co-directed with Bitch .
In 2004 she returned to the very island where some of her earliest recorded songs were written to create Turning Into Beautiful produced by db Benedictson. In 2007 she began re-releasing a series of CDs as her Collected Works, and so far Testimony, Driver, Shadows on a Dime, and Turning Into Beautiful have appeared completely rejacketed with previously unreleased photographs. Ferron's CD, Boulder was produced by Bitch (with JD Samson for one song) on the Short Story Records label and released in 2008. Boulder includes guest appearances by Ani Difranco, Amy Ray and Emily Sailers (Indigo Girls), JD Samson (Le Tigre), Sam Parton (Be Good Tanyas), Tina G (God-des) and Julie Wolf. In 2009 to 2010, Ferron created commissioned textile art—wall hangings, quilts, and pillows—that features her lyrics and poetry. A CD with live performances, Girl on a Road was released in 2011. Bitch produced the newest Ferron CD Lighten-ing released in 2013 with the film Thunder packaged as a two-disc set.
Ferron teaches master classes in writing (Bell 2001, Camlin 2010), and has opened an artist retreat for women in Three Rivers, Michigan, called "The Fen Peace and Poetry Camp for Women." For Ferron, "artistic expression is not only essential, it’s revolutionary." "Art is really the expression of the soul," Ferron says. "I'm asking women to remember that if we remember our soul, we keep our soul, and we can do it through artistic connections. Art is connected to the soul, and the soul is connected to God, and God is connected to humility, so if you want to take control of a person's soul, don't let them have art. To me it's a revolutionary act to continue keeping your artist soul alive" (Esters 2007).
- Ferron (1977)
- Backed Up (1978)
- Testimony (1980)
- Shadows on a Dime (1984)
- Phantom Center (1990)
- Not a Still Life (1992, live)
- Resting With the Question (1992)
- Driver (1994)
- Still Riot (1996)
- Inside Out (1999)
- Impressionistic (2002)
- Turning Into Beautiful (2005)
- Boulder (2008)
- Girl on a Road (2011, live)
- Lighten-ing (2013)
- Not A Still Life Songbook. (50 pp.; musical notation and lyrics; wire-bound to lay flat.) Nemesis Publishing, Vashon, WA. (1993)
- “Courting the Muse: Thoughts on the Art of Songwriting. Sentimental Education.” Sing Out!: The Folk Song Magazine 39(3):55-57. (1994)
- THe (h)UNGeR POeMs. (Printed in two formats: a “bound card” version, and an unbound version consisting of 10 leaves on linen held inside an artisanal envelope of handmade paper; autographed.) Big Universe Productions, Bodega, CA. (1997) (Third edition (2000) )
- Catching Holy. Poems 2006-2008. (57 pp.; perfect binding.) Nemesis Publishing, Three Rivers, MI. (2008)
- Ferron 2004 "Biography."
- Scott Alarik 2003 Deep Community: Adventures in the Modern Folk Underground, pp. 207–208. Black Wolf Press: Cambridge, MA.
- Ed Bell 2001 "A Provincetown Writing Workshop with Ferron" Provincetown Magazine 24 (27): 36, 38-39.
- Camlin 2010 "Notes from The Fen" Our Big Gayborhood (April 11) http://www.ourbiggayborhood.com/2010/04/notes-from-the-fen/
- Roddy Campbell 2004 "Too Long In Exile." Penguin Eggs 24: 30-32.
- Mina Carson, Tisa Lewis, and Susan M.Shaw 2004 Girls Rock! Fifty Years of Women Making Music. University of Kentucky Press: Lexington.
- Stephanie Esters 2007 "Ferron to open women's retreat near Three Rivers." Kalamazoo Gazette (March 18, 2007 via Mlive.com).
- Douglas Heselgrave 2008 "Boulder: the best album of the year so far." Restless and Real - words and sounds from a shrinking world (June 17, 2008).
- Stephen Holden 1994 "Dylan’s Children, Without the Sanctimony." The New York Times (November 20) Section II: 1, 34.
- Al Kaufman 2008 "Ferron, Bitch, Sage Play Eddie's." Atlanta Music Guide 658 (May 11).
- Mark Miller 2001 Ferron. Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. Electronic Version. National Library of Canada: Ottawa.
- Dee Mosbacher (Director) 2002 Radical Harmonies. Motion Picture. Woman Vision, San Francisco.
- Laura Post 1997 "Ferron: Taking a New Step in an Old Direction." Backstage Pass: Interviews with Women in Music, pp. 52–59. New Victoria Publishers, Norwich, Vermont.
- Sandra Thomas 2002 "Totally Cool School." Vancouver Courier (21 May).
- Bett Williams 2000 "Dancer in the Dark." Surfin' Bett (October 27). Posted on the Lesbianation website. Accessed August 29, 2002.