Cold Mountains premiere from Vivian Leva

Though still in college, young Vivian Leva is drawing on two lifetimes in traditional music to inform her label debut, Time Is Everything, due next month from Free Dirt Records. Her parents have been active in the old time and bluegrass world since she was born, imbuing a love for the music, the culture, and the people into her soul from the time she was old enough to recognize it.

Her father, noted multi-instrumentalist James Leva, shared the traditions he picked up from legends like Tommy Jarrell, while her mother, Carol Elizabeth Leva, imparted her experience singing with pioneers like Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard. That’s how a young woman can sing old time music as authentically as Vivian does on her new album.

A debut single is released today, Cold Mountains, which clearly demonstrates her familiarity with the old time sound. She tells us it’s one that came from the source.

“I first discovered the song after my musical parter Riley Calcagno sent me a link to an a cappella version sung by Texas Gladden, a ballad singer from Southwest Virginia. I grew up listening to Texas, and the thing that always has drawn me in is her honest way of telling a story. Listening to her sing Cold Mountains made me feel all of her yearning and heartache. Riley and I learned this song before deciding that we wanted to write a bridge and create our own arrangement. Our recording of Cold Mountains on the album is not sung a cappella, but instead with harmony and simple instrumentation.”

The track is available now to radio through AirPlay Direct. It is offered now to consumers as a single track from the popular online sites, or as an immediate download when you pre-order the full album. Copies on CD are shipping now from Free Dirt Records.

Time Is Everything includes a couple of long standing classics, along with 8 of her own compositions. She is being heralded in old time circles as much for her writing as her skills on banjo and guitar, not to mention her singing.

You can learn more about Vivian and her music online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.