Deep Reverence

The members of her New Orleans church call her "Sister Shocked." She's the Ms. Shocked who sued the Mercury record label under the 13th amendment—that's the anti-slavery amendment—to obtain ownership of her own albums. It's Michelle Shocked, whose past albums—including Short Sharp Shocked, Captain Swing, and Arkansas Traveler—travel the family tree of roots rock. They're like old family letters: "I can't tell you where I'm going," she says, "but I can tell you where I'm from."

Shocked's current release, Deep Natural, and a companion album, Dub Natural, lead listeners on a tour of her Nawlins, Looziana-based journey these days. The first album, which Shocked describes as "Gospel Birdsong," leads listeners down the hidden alleys of the French quarter and to the back row of her church's wooden pews during choir practice. The second album is inspired by a Jamaican dub style, where most lyrics have been stripped from the music, exposing the complexity of Shocked's musical compositions.

Shocked hasn't mellowed since the Short Sharp Shocked days, but even she would acknowledge that her spiritual vision saturates the music and lyrics of her songs.

Evidences of her journey are in songs such as "Why Do I Get the Feeling" and "Forgive to Forget," where Shocked sings, "I lost the will to live/And I found the will to forgive/But the more I forgive/The more I forget/Holding on to the past/ is my only regret."

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Sojourners Magazine May-June 2002
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