Appalachian singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Martha Spencer grew up in the Whitetop Mountain Band, which dates back to the 1940s, and channels old sounds as well as creating new ones. Her new album, Wonderland, coming September 2, 2022, consists of half newly written songs. As her second solo album, Wonderland speaks truths about Spencer’s small mountain community, people who in her words, put “rags over riches, joy over judgment, love over all.” The album’s first single and video for “Enchantress” is out now.
Like many artists, Spencer found herself at home a lot more than normally planned during the pandemic, and she feels that a longing for travel is expressed on the album as well. Missing friends, she invited musical guests from near and far, like Richmond Gospel musicians The Legendary Ingramettes, Alice Gerrard, and Native Americana guitarist Cary Morin. Some of these connections came from Spencer’s work with cultural organizations like the Virginia Folklife Program and Music Maker Foundation. Other collaborators included Luke Bell, bluegrass fiddler Billy Hurt Jr., Appalachian trio The Blue Ridge Girls, and Cajun fiddler Joel Savoy.
The title of her album, Wonderland, comes from the idea of working with friends as an “escape”.
Spencer comments on the title track:
That song was first inspired by someone commenting on me living in my own little wonderland on the mountain with the wildlife, woods, music, dancing and little creative projects I like to do.
Wonderland is about “doing your own thing”, something that Spencer finds is an especially salient point for women in Appalachia.