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Cortney Tidwell

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Possessing a beautiful voice and an ethereal melodic sense that suggests a freak folk variation on Mazzy Star or This Mortal Coil, singer and songwriter Cortney Tidwell was born into a family of musicians, but in her early life this heritage seemed as much a curse as a blessing.

Tidwell was born in Nashville, TN, where her grandfather had been a successful recording artist and a guest on the Grand Ol’ Opry, her father was a veteran A&R man, her mother had landed several singles on the country charts in the 1970s, and their circle of friends included the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Jack Clement.

However, in the mid-’70s Tidwell’s mother was diagnosed with manic depression, and her parents split up as her mother sunk deeper and deeper into depression, only to die alone in 1999 at the age of 49. As a child, Tidwell would play piano to escape the madness surrounding her, but with time she came to associate music with the pain of her childhood and gave up playing for many years.

Around the time of her mother’s passing (which coincided with the suicide of a close friend), Tidwell returned to songwriting to make sense of her feelings, and after singing in a cover band and forming a punk combo with a friend, she began recording her own songs using a makeshift home studio, playing all the instruments herself. In time, Tidwell began playing her material in public, and while some audiences were nonplussed with her songs, she soon made friends and fans of some of Nashville’s most acclaimed musicians, including members of Lambchop and Hands Off Cuba.

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