Atlanta based, internationally touring singer/songwriter Doria Roberts has lived on the road since performing at the original Lilith Fair in 1999 where she was plucked from the side stage to perform solos with Sarah McLachlan and the Indigo Girls. She quit her day job the next morning and since then has performed nearly 150 shows a year, appearing in listening rooms, theaters and festivals across the US, Canada, Japan, France, Sweden and Australia.
She has shared the stage with folk and blues legends Odetta, The Holmes Brothers and Janis Ian, world music darling Angelique Kidjo, as well as pop favorites John Mayer, Me’shell N’degeocello and many others. In 2010, she was chosen for a tour + artist residency at the Chateauvallon artist enclave in Ollioules, France and was recently a finalist in the GRAMMYLive: Gig of Lifetime contest where she represented the entire South Atlantic region for a chance to perform at the GRAMMYs in LA.
We caught up with Doria for a little Q&A before her show this Sunday at Red Clay Theatre
What is the strangest thing a fan has done for you?
I have a fan in DC who knits me things. When I used to be on the road 10 months out of the year, I’d play in DC about twice a year and she’d be there with something new every single time. I thought it was strange at first because it’s such a labor intensive thing to do for someone you don’t know but then I found myself looking forward to getting them and always made sure she knew when I was coming through town.
What is the funniest moment you have had as an artist so far?
Well, it’s the funniest and grossest. I play a lot of college shows so odds are this was going to happen sooner or later. I was doing a gig at Princeton University and a fan was sick but determined to come to my show and promptly threw up during my set–20 feet from the stage. He was out my range of sight so I only heard and then…just ‘wow’ is all I will say. We were all at a loss as to what to do so I just cracked jokes while maintenance cleaned up. The whole venue smelled like Pine-Sol afterwards.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I’m not a particularly superstitious person so I don’t have any “out there” rituals but I have these song books that have the final handwritten copies of every song that I’ve ever written and that I have to have at every show even though I would die if anything ever happened to them. I’ve had one of them for nearly 20 years so, if I can’t locate it, I kind of freak out–which is awesome for everyone around me. (lol) But, I always have to reference them to do my set list and I always start at the beginning even though I haven’t played the first song I wrote live in probably 15 years.
If you could describe your music in one word, what would it be?
How do you connect with a crowd?
I talk a lot–or too much depending on your perspective–at my shows. I always feel a little awkward on stage since I’m basically a homebody and doing shows used to be my only social interaction. And, I honestly like to know what they’re up to, how they’re feeling, what’s going on in their city, etc. I always ask what they want to hear even if I’ve already done a set list. I feel like if someone is paying to see you perform they should have at least some input in their experience.
Who would be part of your dream lineup?
True story: When I was about to record the CD that eventually became “Woman Dangerous”, through various industry friends and internet stalking, I contacted Gail Ann Dorsey (bassist for David Bowie), Cindy Blackman Santana (drummer for Lenny Kravitz) and Bibi McGill (Current Guitarist for Beyonce) to be my studio band and got a maybe, yes, and yes respectively. But, scheduling foiled the whole thing. I still dream about it sometimes…
What is the best way to write music?
Without thinking about it. If I start thinking about it, I usually mess it up. If something comes up, I immediately get it down on paper so, even if I can’t work on it right away, I’ll have an inkling of the inspiration behind it.
Doria Roberts + The Blackeyed Susans
Red Clay Theatre
Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 7:30PM