Priscilla Herdman with Max Cohen in Concert

Priscilla HerdmanSaturday, March 13, 8:00 PM
165 McGraw Hall, Cornell Arts Quad

By mid-March, some softly radiant perennials will be emerging from the chilly mud (or snow), and Ithaca will be similarly warmed by the singing of perennial friend Priscilla Herdman. In over 30 years of performing and recording, from her 1977 debut Water Lily to her 2008 album, Into the Stars, she has won a devoted audience. Priscilla Herdman is known for having the richest female voice on the folk circuit: sumptuous, limpid, and spell-binding. Scott Alarik of the Boston Globe calls it “…miraculously pure and effortlessly beautiful, a voice that immediately draws people in.” New York Times, Rolling Stone, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Dirty Linen critics have lauded it as “elegant, pitch-perfect,” “opulent,” “spiritually luminescent,” and “enrapturing.” Sing Out! compares her vocal quality to that of a fine mature wine that intoxicates deeply.

Priscilla Herdman puts her remarkable voice to use interpreting first-rate, wide-ranging material, from Australian outback poetry to Dr. Seuss, from traditional British and Appalachian Child ballads to gritty, funny Utah Phillips and Cheryl Wheeler, from insightful, contemporary “issue” songs to sweet lullabies and love songs, many original. She has an unerring ability to find lasting, wonderful songs and a chameleon’s skill at fitting herself to them perfectly, giving them graceful, powerful expression. She chooses “significant material from the finest writers (including herself), made even more special through her performance: … good songs sung right,” declares Sing Out! For 17 years, she joined with Anne Hills and Cindy Mangsen as The Trio; their remarkable harmonies, high spirits, and diverse material made them the most-requested performers for the Cornell Folk Song Society. In addition to her many solo and group recordings, Priscilla has made three remarkable family albums, which have received Parents Choice Classic and Gold Awards and have been named by the American Library Association as Notable Children’s Recordings.

Priscilla Herdman has excellent taste in the musical company she keeps, being joined on stage, in the studio, and in friendship over the years by the likes of Abby Newton, Jay Ungar and Molly Mason, Artie and Happy Traum, Guy Van Duser and Billy Novick, Scott Petito, Bill Staines, and the aforementioned Hills and Mangsen. On this current tour, she’ll be joined by a fine accompanist, Max Cohen on guitar, who appears on her two most recent recordings. It’s been nearly four years since Priscilla Herdman last graced Ithaca. Please join her, and Max Cohen, for an evening of heartfelt music: silly, sad, and passionate. You will be moved.

Tickets: $15 advance/$17 door; $3 rebates at door for CFSS members, seniors, teens; children 12 and under free. CU students $10/$12. Tickets at Ludgate Farms, Ithaca Guitar Works, GreenStar, Bound for Glory, and online <>. Info: website or 607-279-2027.

–Margaret Shepard

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