University of South Alabama writer-in-residence Frye Gaillard and Fairhope singer-songwriter Kathryn Scheldt are currently presenting programs on the literature of Southern music at venues across the region.
On their current tour, Gaillard opens each program with a talk about the power of southern music, reading from his books Watermelon Wine: Remembering the Golden Years of Country Music and With Music and Justice for All: Some Southerners and Their Passions. Scheldt then follows with songs deeply rooted in the Gulf Coast South, reflecting the joy and pain – and occasional whimsy – of a woman’s journey through time and place.
All of the songs are Scheldt originals, including ten co-written with Gaillard. The Southern Girl CD, which features some of the finest musicians in the South, was recorded in Nashville and Daphne, AL. Gaillard’s Watermelon Wine, regarded as a classic on the spirit of country music, was recently re-released in paperback by NewSouth Books.
Gaillard said he was interested in working with Scheldt on the lyrics as a different take on his prose writing. “I’ve always seen music as a real window into our culture and who we are,” he said. “I’ve written about music, and music as a form of literature. I’m fascinated by this lyrical content and what it tells us about the times we live in.”
Although Gaillard and Scheldt each lived and worked in North Carolina earlier in their careers, they didn’t meet until he heard her sing an original song at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Mobile after Hurricane Katrina. Scheldt later sang a solo at Gaillard’s mother’s funeral. In February, they began writing songs together.
Scheldt said of the collaboration, “I have had a strong appreciation for Frye's work for many years. It's great joining forces. Working together as we do is both fun and satisfying. I think one of the most interesting aspects of working with Frye is our ability to act as 'one mind.' Our working together seems so natural and easy.”
Their appearances feature Scheldt performing songs from her latest CD, Southern Girl, which is already drawing rave reviews from regional critics.
“Kathryn Scheldt is an authentic voice from southern Alabama with a bag of songs that have saved her on therapy bills and might do the same for you,” said Nashville music writer Peter Cooper. “Working with co-writer Frye Gaillard – one of the greatest chroniclers of modern southern people, places and times – she delves into folk, rock, country and blues and arrives at a winning synthesis.”
The duo will perform a concert/reading at the NewSouth Book Store in Montgomery, 105 South Court St., at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 14. They will also be guests on the Mississippi Public Broadcasting’s Thacker Mountain Radio show on Oct. 29. It will air on FM 90.3 on Oct. 31 at 7 p.m.
For more information, contact Suzanne@newsouthbooks.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frye Gaillard is writer-in-residence at the University of South Alabama. He is the author of 20 books, exploring the history, politics, religion and culture of the American South.
Kathryn Scheldt has taught music at four southern universities, including the University of South Alabama. She is the author of two music books published by Mel Bay Publications, Inc. Southern Girl is her third CD.