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Dana Fuchs

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Love Lives On Through Dana Fuchs and New Album Set for May 18 Release She’s a blues mama, baby mama, juke-joint Janis and Sexy Sadie all rolled into one passionate performer and compassionate singer-songwriter. If anyone across the universe doesn’t know Dana Fuchs by now, 2018 might be the best time to jump on board her rock-’n’-soul-’n’-rollin’ bandwagon with the upcoming release of Love Lives On.

A New York transplant, Fuchs went all the way to Memphis to record the robust 13-song album in May, adding to her rich musical and artistic history that has included six previous albums and starring roles as two wonder women — one real, one fictional — on the stage and screen. She received rave reviews for playing Janis Joplin in Love, Janis, an off-Broadway musical tribute, and Sexy Sadie in the 2007 film Across the Universe, the overlooked gem that gave familiar Fab Four tunes a healthy injection while bringing to life classic Beatles characters.

Those heralded performances helped Fuchs get her foot in the door of night clubs, rock halls and festival venues. That made Dana the entertainer even more determined to show audiences of curious bystanders joining her true-blue legion that Dana the mother, wife, soul sister, devoted daughter and best friend is the real thing, too.

Love Lives On, successfully crowdfunded through a PledgeMusic campaign in 2017 and set for a May 18 release on Fuchs’ own new label called Get Along Records, isn’t just another record. It’s a way of life for Fuchs, who has mourned the loss of her father, mother, sister and two brothers before giving birth to a happy, healthy baby boy she named Aidan in September 2016.

If anyone asks to succinctly sum up what this new album — the seventh since her 2003 debut — is all about at this stage of her career, Fuchs will say, “Hope and redemption.”

Naturally, Fuchs, whose candid and emotional interview last year landed her among HuffPost’s favorite musicians of 2017, is a convivial conversationalist who enjoys talking almost as much as singing. Almost. Yet when the subject is Love Lives On, the train of thought that’s faster than a speeding bullet bolts out of the station.

“My songs, my past albums, have all been dark, hard-luck sort of tunes. And, of course, that’s in these songs. But it’s the first album I’ve ever written that has some happy songs on it,” she says with a laugh of the record produced by Kevin Houston (a frequent Luther Dickinson collaborator) and co-produced by Fuchs and her longtime music partner and Harlem neighbor, Jon Diamond.

“The message is really just hope,” emphasizes Fuchs, who will tour the record first throughout Europe in April, then the States. “And not personally, but hope in our world and us as a human race. Because these are such seemingly dark times — the hatred and divisiveness.”

“Same Sunlight” is a horn-filled, feel-good ‘50s romp that, while sending the listener back to the heydays of Stax wax tracks, tackles those issues with a simple blues riff by Diamond (electric and acoustic guitars, harmonica) and a can’t-we-all-just-get-along theme that ties into her new label.

We’re all swimmin’ in the sea of life / Fightin’ hard to stay alive /
Battle scars that share the fight / Under the same sunlight — the same sunlight."

Called “one of the great singers working in Blues, Rock or any other genre” by American Blues Scene and “someone who reveres her art” by Relix, a resolute Fuchs bares her spiritual soul in a number of songs while finding a cathartic outlet to come to grips with the emptiness she still feels.

With three of her five siblings and both parents gone, they are fondly remembered on “Faithful Sinner,” “Callin’ Angels” and the title cut, which proves that everlasting love really does exist — even in the afterlife. And those intense feelings can keep us together, no matter what direction one leans politically as the Donald Trump presidency enters its second year.

“With loss, there is always gain,” Fuchs offers, her loyal fan base from New York to the Netherlands turning out to serve as alert eyewitnesses. “If we really pay attention to each other, that’s what happens at shows. I’ve seen people hug each other that I know, for a fact on Facebook, one hates Trump, one loves him. But they’re not thinking about that in those moments of the show. You know, music can be the umbrella and sharing our stories with each other, sharing our pain, our experiences is what connects us. And we gotta turn the tide on all this fucking hatred and racism rearing up its ugly head again.”

With her powerful pipes leading the way, there’s an obvious reason that the scorching “Ready to Rise” is among the 11 originals Fuchs wrote with Diamond (former Gregg Allman Band guitarist and musical director Scott Sharrard also gets a writing credit on five songs). While she alone can drown out all the negativity, there’s a formidable phalanx of supporting players there to help, too.

Play this record — LOUD! — and feel the power of the Memphis music scene, not only from the seductive clout provided by Fuchs’ vocals but also the Southern sway of top-notch session players like the Rev. Charles Hodges (organ), whose magical notes filled the Al Green songbook, Steve Potts (drums), the soul backbone of Stax Records, Gregg Allman and Booker T., with Kirk Smothers (saxophone) and Marc Franklin (trumpet) contributing horns of plenty.

Along with Diamond, other favorite musicians Fuchs has worked with on previous albums return, including Lenny Kravitz and Joss Stone veteran Jack Daley (bass) and Glenn Patscha (piano, Wurlitzer).

Made in 11 days, Fuchs, who rented an Airbnb house in the middle of midtown Memphis to spend time in a studio outside New York City for the first time, says, “It was the smoothest [recording] experience I’ve ever had. It was kind of remarkable.” Fuchs also has two signature covers on the album — Otis Redding’s “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and “Ring of Fire,” the Johnny Cash hit written by June Carter Cash and Merle Kilgore that’s a fitting finale as a tribute to her late father.

“He was such a big Johnny Cash fan,” says Fuchs, whose voice and acoustic guitar, with Eric Lewis’ poignant pedal steel, take the song back to the sultry Southern roots where a girl growing up in Wildwood, Fla., often heard her dad play the original version. “And I was like, ‘Ring of Fire,’ it’s like a beautiful love song if you strip it down. So, Jon and I just started rehearsing it at the hotel one night on tour. And we said, ‘Let’s try it at a show.’ People went crazy doing it that way.”

So climb aboard this crazy soul train and enter the tunnel of Love Lives On with Jammin’ Janis and Sexy Sadie, both embodied by the Divine Miss Dana. The timeless trip will do your heart good, and all you have to do is press play.