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November 4, 2010
Jeff Reid

A back road ride straight to Heartbreak Hotel, Sparkle Plenty has more perspectives on the heart than an episode of “House.”

Brenda Linton resides in Washington, N.C., also known as “Little Washington.”  An accomplished songwriter and arranger, she also has a strong and agile voice, with a tremolo to rival Dolly Parton’s.  Clear and sweet (her nickname is the “Carolina Nightingale”), she puts it to good use on her album.

The opening riff of “No Reason At All” has an indie feel but makes a hard right into contemporary country.  The chords and melodies take twists and turns in all of her songs, but it’s the instrumentation that stands out.  Very well produced, Linton covers a lot of ground stylistically, flying effortlessly from folk to blues and even classical. No info on where it was recorded or who the players are, but it’s all top-notch.

Linton sounds confident in what she wants to say, if not heart-weary, but never leaves you in the dumps. This is a mature record, touching on motherhood, long looks back down the path of experience and, yes, lost loves and opportunities.  But often out of sorrow rises hope, and it has a name: beauty.  Does it sparkle?  Plenty.

The following is a response Brenda posted about this article:

Brenda Linton says:
November 8, 2010 at 11:05 pm

Hey Jeff, thanks for this charming review! I do love my home town of little Washington but these days I actually live in a tiny hamlet in Chatham County called Moncure. So, I was lucky to have a number of fine musicians from Pittsboro as well as nearby Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh involved in this project:

I recorded SPARKLE PLENTY with co-producer and bassist Rick Lassiter at his studio in Raleigh. In fact, Rick’s double bass is one of the most distinctive features of the album. Dave Smith did the beautiful acoustic lead guitar work and my son, Philip Sullivan (who also played on my first album), provided a wonderful edgy sound with his electric, slide, and lap steel guitar parts.

Beverly Botsford overdubbed a ton of percussion parts and even used a kitchen broom on plywood for the “late-night” blues song! Bryan McCune played an understated cornet and Joyce Bowden contributed clarinet, Irish harp, and ethereal supporting vocals. Robert Hudson and Dan Davis shared drumming duties. Finally, Wilmington resident, Bert Linton (who also happens to be my bro), played electric bass and sang a duet with me on the only cover tune by Orange County songwriter, Laura Silvestri. Every musician put their own stamp on the record, and that pleases me no end!

It’s been awhile since I played in Wilmington so I’m really looking forward to getting back to the Port city with my bag of new songs. Thanks, Jeff, for a great mag and for helping to keep the music scene there thriving!

Best, Bren


Washington Daily News
January 2007
Dan Parsons

Living along a river, one comes to appreciate the sound of authentic, heart-felt folk music. Brenda Linton’s album, THE SECRET, thoroughly captures that grass-root, independent sound that the music industry so badly needs in the 21st century, like one would expect to hear being picked on the front porch of an old filling station. Listening, one is transported, by Linton’s melodic voice, back to a time when the world was truer to itself and music was judged by talent rather then fashion. THE SECRET lulls the listener with the massage of Linton’s voice and involves a basic sweetness and truth from which the mainstream has diverged. It is an album and a sound welcome when one finds him or herself by a quaint fire, alone or with close company, with nature, in that serene state that is so difficult to find on the radio


January 17, 2006
Dan Parsons
Staff Writer

Everyone has heard a song that reaches a certain place inside them and helps them make sense of the world, endearing them to the singer and all who hear that song. Brenda Linton writes music for that purpose.

"There are a lot of secrets that people hold, both good and bad," Linton said in an interview at the Daily News Jan. 12. "If you can reach that part of a person by writing about your own secrets, then the listener will be able to identify with the artist and the song."

Now based in Burnsville, near Asheville, Linton grew up in Washington. She has been gone for many years but says that though the city has changed, it is as beautiful as ever. At eight years old, Linton began taking piano lessons from the organist of First Baptist Church in Washington, known to her as Miss Gladys. In the spring time she participated in musicals and took singing lessons. At 14, she began playing guitar and soon started a band with two friends called the New Horizon Singers.

"Music is the centerpiece of my life. It has given me so much joy because I can play piano by myself at my house or I can play with others in the moment. Touching people with music is my life's work."

Joan Baez and Paul McCartney are influences she credits to the creation of her own "blend of folk, blues and rock." "I also have a lot of jazz and gospel influences from singing at church," Linton said. "I like the straightforwardness of folk music. I listened to the jazz standards while I was growing up and then came the Beatles. I also love Perry Como. I've always thought be was better than Sinatra."

Linton's first album, "The Secret", displays those rock, folk, and jazz influences. And many of the songs are written from her own life experience. "Warriors" and "Still in this World" are autobiographical of her and her mother's struggles with breast cancer.

"Music has gotten me through a lot of hard times in my life," Linton said. "It helped me deal with the death of my mother and to fight my own bout with cancer."

A definite element of Celtic style can be heard on a number of the tracks as well.
"Celtic music has been a big influence for maybe the last five years, but I don't really know where it started," Linton said. "I was fortunate enough to do a three-week tour in Ireland beginning in May. The Irish have a talent for telling stories that make ordinary events seem magical."

It was that story-telling tradition that inspired her to choose the title song of her album which, she said, is about an Irish friend's experience with a leprechaun when he was young. Linton does not limit her writing to music. She is also a poet, short-story writer and essayist. With two sons and a grandchild, writing is the direction in which she sees her life heading.

"The one challenge a person has as he or she ages is getting out in the world and doing new things and meeting new people," Linton said. "That is my main focus at this point. I want to get out and write about what I see and put that out there for others to read."

Linton's album can be purchased from her web site at www.brendalinton.com
or from www.cdbaby.com

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