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Ferron (Debby Foisy) (b. 1952)  
 
page: 1  2  

Between 1992 and 1994, Ferron released three albums on her American label, Cherrywood Station: Not a Still Life (1992), the instrumental Resting with the Question (1992), and Driver (1994). Driver was picked up by Earthbeat Records, highly praised by critics, and nominated for a Juno Award in 1995.

Warner Brothers signed Ferron in 1994 and reissued Driver and Phantom Center on their label. They also arranged an extended tour for Ferron and her band, but the deal ultimately fell through. In the end, Warner Brothers owned Driver, Phantom Center, and a new album, Still Riot (1996). The latter issue features Indigo Girl Emily Saliers, singers Lauren Wood and Christ Webster, violinist Scarlet Rivera, and percussionist Vicki Randle.

Sponsor Message.

In 1996, Ferron received an Outmusic Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Gay & Lesbian American Music Awards. However, she was financially and emotionally broken and bruised from the Warner Brothers experience, so she took a sabbatical from performing and went to live with friends in California.

In 1999, Ferron released Inside Out, an album of cover songs, at a benefit for the Institute for Music Arts. On the album, Ferron covers songs that meant a great deal to her when she was growing up. Among these are "Town without Pity" and Van Morrison's "Crazy Love."

In 2000, she released Impressionistic Ferron, a retrospective album reprising her earlier work and including a 24-page autobiographical booklet. She continued to perform at smaller clubs and to facilitate writing workshops. In 2002, Ferron was featured in Dee Mosbacher's Radical Harmonies, a documentary about women's music.

In 2004, Ferron began working on the album Turning into Beautiful (2005), with borrowed money in a farmhouse on Saturna Island in British Columbia. The album was produced by db benedictson. The farmhouse was a place Ferron lived when she was a teenager in a foster home. She filled the farmhouse with band members from Driver, Testimony, and Shadows on a Dime. For Ferron, it was a coming home in "body, mind, and direction."

Turning into Beautiful is a return to basics for Ferron's music. On the album is the haunting song "Souvenir," which reappears on her 2008 album Boulder.

Ferron's newest CD is Boulder (2008), produced by out-musician Bitch (half of the punk group Bitch and Animal) on Bitch's Short Story Record label. Long an admirer of Ferron, Bitch tracked Ferron down in Three Oaks, Michigan, drove her RV to Ferron's house, and stayed until she convinced the singer to record songs on a little Mac computer with one mic.

After Ferron recorded the songs, Bitch took the recordings to her friends in the music community. Consequently, the CD includes guest appearances by Ani Difranco, the Indigo Girls, JD Samson (Le Tigre), Sam Parton (Be Good Tanyas), Tina G (God-des), and Julie Wolf.

The CD has garnered praise from critics and long-time fans alike. As usual, Ferron's lyrics are compared to Leonard Cohen's and her now-weathered voice to Marianne Faithful's and Loretta Lynn's. But such comparisons are misleading insofar as they fail to recognize Ferron's originality. Ferron is a poet whose words come from an emotional place inside her and they reflect a unique perspective.

Bitch sees Boulder as a chance to bring two generations of musicians together, making the music accessible to women of all ages. Ferron and Bitch are currently touring together to promote the album, and their shows are a creative mixture of humor and artistry.

Ferron has observed, "When you wait to see what life's going to give you, life can only respond to what's going on inside." Clearly, what's going on inside Ferron these days is the same eloquence and creativity she has exhibited for over thirty years. At 55, she is a long way from the troubled 15-year-old who left home to pursue her music, but she is still following her dream.

In 2006, Ferron opened an artists' retreat for women in Three Rivers, Michigan, called "The Fen Peace and Poetry Camp for Women," a place "where women can get connected or stay connected with their creative passion."

With her partner, Marianne, Ferron has set up a mail-order business distributing her products. She says, "I think my job is to get a little bit near the edge and come back and talk about it, but I don't have to put myself over the edge. I can just live and it'll be OK."

Victoria Shannon

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    Bibliography
   

Ferron. "Biography." (2008): http://www.ferrononline.com/biography/index/html.

Harrington, Richard. "Ferron's Canadian Craft." The Washington Post (October 18, 1996): N12.

Harris, Craig. "Old Songs, New Ears: Ferron at the Iron Horse." Masslive.com (June 6, 2008): http://blog.masslive.com/lifeafter50/2008/06/old_songs_new_ears.html

Hesselgrave, Douglas. "Boulder: The Best Album of the Year." Restless and Real Blogspot (June 17, 2008): http://restlessandreal.blogspot.com/2008/06/boulder-best-album-of-year-so-far.html

Kaufman, Al. "Ferron, Bitch, Sage Play Eddie's." Atlanta Music Guide (May 11, 2008).

Larkin, Colin, Ed. "Ferron." The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. 4th ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. 430-31.

Mosbacher, Dee, dir. Radical Harmonies. Women Vision, 2002.

Olch, Karen B. "Heart on the Line: Canadian Singer/Songwriter Ferron Plays Paradiso." Seattle Weekly (March 17, 2005).

Post, Laura. Backstage Pass: Interviews with Women in Music. Norwich, Vt.: New Victoria Publishers, 1997.

Pratt, Paul E. "Bitch Presents: Folk Legend Ferron." San Francisco Bay Times (July 9, 2008).

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Shannon, Victoria  
    Entry Title: Ferron (Debby Foisy)  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated July 29, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/ferron.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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