Clad in metallic silver booties and outfitted with a beautiful acoustic guitar, London-based singer-songwriter Jade Bird took to the stage of Richardson Auditorium to perform her music and engage in dialogue on Wednesday evening.
Accompanied by George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History Sean Wilentz, 19-year-old Bird discussed her career, upcoming album, and how her past has shaped her into the artist she is today.
Bird’s sound has echoes of country, blues, soul, and pop, with influences from artists like Chris Stapleton, The Civil Wars, and Patti Smith, all musicians she described as having an impact on her growing up. has described her music as “a young Londoner's spin on modern Americana and stripped-down soul.”
In addition to her impressive vocals and guitar prowess, Bird is deeply involved in the songwriting process of her work, explaining how she writes every single day. Bird’s songs, such as “Who Wants,” detail personal moments in her life, like her parents divorcing when she was young. In commenting on her song “Cathedral,” she noted how her fascination with the word ‘cathedral’ and its connotations with marriage inspired her to write the track.
“I had this big dramatic kind of song in my head, and it made for a really big kind of atmospheric song, so in producing it [we tried to] give it that space and give it that air,” she said.
When asked about her song “Something American,” Bird explained how even though the meaning of the song has evolved for her over time, she still finds the message of it — to stop chasing the future and instead deal with the present — to be constant in her life.
“It doesn’t matter where you are, but you’re always looking up,” she explained. “You’ve got to stop doing that, you’ve got to stop looking for that, you know, something American, something great.”
Bird also commented on how she finds herself bored with a lot of current music, often distancing herself from the same tendencies of overproduction in her own music.
“A lot of the things I listen to right now … [are] quite saturated by production,” she explained.
Characterized by her acoustic, subtle sound, Bird explained that she feels secure in her pursuit of such an authentic style. Surrounded by people who support her, armed with youth, and still learning from new experiences, she said that all these aspects contribute to her style.
“I’m going to get it wrong again and again until, hopefully, I get it right,” she added.
Becca Senatore ’20 attended the performance without much prior exposure to Bird’s work but left the show impressed, calling Bird a “brilliant musician” with a voice that is “clear and crisp and absolutely beautiful.”
Another attendee, Lukas Novak ’18, was struck by Bird’s charm and how she engaged with the audience.
“In tandem with music, she has a winning personality. So, I would buy it,” Novak said. “I feel like she has a future.”
The event took place Oct. 11 at 8:30 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium.