Catch one morsel of Rosalie Sorrels’s voice and you know you’re in the presence of a person of real substance. She’s 62 but has the hipness and youth of a woman for whom age is inconsequential. Sorrels split her Idaho home at 19, married and had five kids, then divorced and took her children on the road with her while she traveled the country as a folksinger. She now lives in her father’s cabin in the mountains outside Boise and maintains a successful relationship with the fine Green Linnet label, for whom she’s made a batch of super records. When she sings Sorrels brings forth a huge life brimming with adventure as well as tragedy–indeed, the folksinger recalls the dark depth of Marianne Faithfull as much as the bright twang of Patsy Cline. On her most recent record, the hugely popular Borderline Heart, she sings “Hitchhiker in the Rain,” a sad, honest song about her son’s recent suicide. Sorrels is a master storyteller. In fact, even though last year’s What Does It Mean to Love? was released as a children’s record, the gritty between-song stories were so rich in meaning and texture that they weren’t just for kids. An outspoken hero for the resilient folk counterculture–with fans from Nanci Griffith (who wrote the song “Ford Econoline” about Sorrels’s traveling motherhood) to Hunter S. Thompson–Sorrels has decried the music industry’s attempt “to homogenize women and ethnicity into something blander.” She’s living proof that there are some things the biz just can’t whitewash. Sunday, 8 PM, Lunar Cabaret and Full Moon Cafe, 2827 N. Lincoln; 327-6666. Next Saturday, March 30, 7:30 PM, Lake Street Church, 607 Lake, Evanston; 847-475-6165. JOHN CORBETT
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/William Campbell.