Rich melodies, inventive lyrics, a voice as tuneful as it is emotionally expressive: There's nothing revolutionary about Thea Hopkins' music, yet it is, in 2013, a rare thing. Thea calls it "Red Roots Americana." The phrase weds her Wampanoag ancestry with the musical genre she loves best. It is a fresh stamp on Americana: there's a twang at its heart, but the voice evinces no regional trace. A "standout songwriter" (Washington Post) Thea Hopkins' Americana reflects the sturdy virtues that have been native to American popular music from the Gershwin Brothers to the Stanley Brothers.
Thea's new 6 song EP "Lilac Sky" departs from the contemporary folk approach that marked her first two albums. The rip-it-up sound is also a change from the topical balladry that inspired Peter, Paul & Mary to record Thea's work. (Her song "Jesus Is On The Wire" was recorded by P, P & M in both 2004 and 2010. ) "Lilac Sky" features pianist Tim Ray (Lyle Lovett), guitarist Peter Parcek (Blues Foundation Award nominee), drummer Mike Piehl (Chris Smither, Peter Wolf) and bassist Paul Kochanski (The Swinging Steaks). Four of the songs are sparked by substantial contributions from Thea's current guitarist/mandola player, Andy Hollinger, and former guitarist Cameron Peterson. Country-rock singer/songwriter Susan Cattaneo adds harmony vocals.
The two covers -- Marianne Faithfull's "When I Find My Life" and Linda & Teddy Thompson's "Do Your Best For Rock and Roll" -- are strikingly personal interpretations. Hopkins' debut album, "Birds of Mystery," was named one of the Top Ten local albums of the year by the Boston Herald: "A gorgeous dusky voice wraps itself like mist around country-folk songs of tenderness and substance." Peter, Paul & Mary wrote: “Thea Hopkins is one of the most literate, poetic, emotionally moving of the new songwriters to arrive on the scene in the last few years." The 2007 CD "Chickasaw" received a 4 star review from Britain's Maverick Magazine. "Thea Hopkins possesses a voice that stands up to her material," wrote the website Americana-UK. And Susan Werner wrote: "It's a voice with the mystery and power of the late, great Nick Drake.”
Thea is a recent first place winner of American Songwriter Magazine's lyric writing contest.
She is a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah, Martha's Vineyard. She also boasts African-American, Irish, French, Portuguese and Cherokee ancestry. Now that's Americana!
Thea has opened for Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Richie Havens, Maura O'Connell, Susan Werner, John Hammond, Ellis Paul, Brooks Williams & Katy Moffatt. She's performed at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, Club Passim, Johnny D's, Nashville's Bluebird Cafe, Utah's Sundance Film Festival, The Coffee Gallery near L.A., and The Bitter End in N.Y.C. Among many others, she's received airplay on WFUV-FM, WUMB-FM & WERS-FM.