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Shelly Fairchild
10
9/10

Shelly Fairchild

Sounds Like: The Mississippi Delta communion of Flaming Red-era Patty Griffin, Joss Stone and Susan Tedeschi

For Fans of: Ballsy, bluesy rockers with a dash of Southern sweetness

Why You Should Pay Attention: After Sony's release of her outstanding LP, Ride, in 2005, this native of Clinton, Mississippi (whose high-school show choir also featured future 'N Sync member Lance Bass), hit the road with Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw. More recently, she has sung backup on tour with Martina McBride and plumbed the murky depths of the indie-artist journey, emerging with the exuberant, Mississippi-mud-encrusted Buffalo, featuring trenchant co-writes with, among others, Travis Meadows, Lisa Carver and co-producers Jeremy Lister and Carey Ott. Highlights include the heart-piercing ballad "House on Fire," the yearning "Mississippi Turnpike" and "Damn Good Lover," on which the out-and-proud lesbian pours gasoline on an already raging musical inferno.

She Says: "When I moved out of Mississippi I was college age and just sort of discovering how important it was to reach across the lines of race relations, sexuality, all these different things. I was from a town and a place where there's so much hurt and there's still so much that's backwards and stuck in the past. I was denying a lot. Once you break things down, it's just fear that people experience and they put that on other people. But I love where I'm from because they are some of the richest people in their souls, of every kind of background. Even though there's a lot of sorrow and pain that's happened there, that's been caused by generation after generation, out of that has come so much beauty and art."

Hear for Yourself: "Mississippi Turnpike" is a wistful yet rollicking road trip on which Fairchild channels equal parts Delbert McClinton and Miranda Lambert. S.L.B.