The Southern Grace of Fayssoux Mclean

There must be something in the water in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A small southern town with big talent, Spartanburg boasts some incredible musicianship. It’s where you’ll find Country, Americana, Bluegrass, Rock, Blues and more….and the southern grace of one Fayssoux Mclean.

                                                                                            

“Sophisticated yet disarmingly charming, Fayssoux exudes both confidence and humility in her performance and persona. She leads you down the roads of your childhood to the freeways of adult life, plucking the strings of life’s struggles and triumphs while reminding you that love is the key to it all.”    

–    Renee Denton from Carma, INC

I don’t think I could have said it any finer about Fayssoux Starling Mclean than our good pal Renee who operates Carma, Inc. (Formed in Upstate South Carolina, CARMA is an organization of individuals whose lives have been touched by music. The mission is to continue the tradition and proliferation of all musical endeavors through supporting regional musicians and artists.) 

If you don’t know about her, I suggest you should educate yourself regarding the beautiful talent that is Fayssoux McLean. Her captivating voice has been showcased in some of the most timeless country music recordings in existence. She sang harmony (under the name Fayssoux Starling) for the one and only  Emmylou Harris, adding her beautiful vocals on songs such as “Luxury Liner,” “Quarter Moon In A Ten Cent Town,” “Elite Hotel,” “Pieces of the Sky” and had well-known duets with Harris on the songs “Spanish is a Loving Tongue” and “Green Rolling Hills.”

Fayssoux is now a fixture around the historical Spartanburg, SC music scene. When I began this piece,  I took some  photo shots of her at the first annual I love Pauline Festival where she was billed as Fayssoux Mclean and The Blue Grass Messengers, a collection of some of the finest bluegrass pickers this side of the mountain. She told me that she just had left Lyman (which was about 30 miles away) after playing another town festival that morning with guitarist Brandon Turner. She then informed me that after the I Love Pauline gig, she was scheduled to perform at a wedding later in the evening. This is the life of a true genuine southern lady who loves to sing and play music with her friends. Wes Wyatt was absolutely correct when he said to me “Fay is great!! She fits in with anyone and has a good time a doing it.”

One of the cool things about living in the Piedmont of South Carolina is that we have a great core group of places to play with Talent that watches out for each other. I can pick up a paper and see where Fayssoux is playing with David Ezzel one night at a local bar. The next night, she’ll be performing at the Library with Brandon Turner and teaching children the history of music.

When I think of Fayssouxx and a way to describe her, the term “Southern Belle” comes to mind. She was born to sing country/old time gospel/love ballads/bluegrass/honky tonk/folk music in a classical style in way of the days of cowgirls around a campfire singing songs of the cowgirl way of life.

Peter Cooper, who is a well known Renaissance man as a musician, teacher and respected music writer, wrote a book educating folks about the rich tradition of Spartanburg, SC musicians.  The book, Hub City Music Makers: One Southern Town’s Popular Music Legacy, included Artists such as Hank Garland, The Marshall Tucker Band, Pink Anderson and “Singing” Billy Walke. When he discovered Fayssouxx was living in the Spartanburg area, her name was added to that list. At the book’s release party she performed to hundreds of listeners that immediately fell head over heels in love with her angelic voice.

Ten years later, Peter Cooper helped produce her solo album, Early.  This album is the classic Saturday afternoon soundtrack to the front porches of rural parts of America and includes duets and harmony vocals by none other than Emmylou Harris. Hearing both of these women sing together is what I feel I would hear just outside the pearly gates of Heaven. Yes, I believe the angels would sound just like that. Having the Emmylou Harris stamp of approval is no light thing.  “I’ve always loved Fayssoux’s voice, ” says Harris. “She’s one of my favorite singers.”   Other guest musicians on the album include Spartanburg native David Ball, Brandon Turner, Bluegrass picker Ricky Skaggs, Bluegrass/Gospel family The Whites and the pedal guitar of Lloyd Green. (Click HERE and buy it. Your music collection deserves this album.)

“Early”:

For years, Fayssoux was only known to esteemed musicians and those of us who actually read the liner notes. Now, Nashville heavyweights such as Rodney Crowell, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt have asked for the services of Fayssoux’s amazing voice. Recently, I saw her perform with Brandon Turner at the newly renovated venue The Spice of Life and was stunned as she took on the Chris Isaak classic “Wicked Games” and totally made it her own song. I was blown away. It was pure magic and I’ll never listen to that song the same way again. She also sang a new song she was learning and it was entirely in Spanish. She didn’t miss a beat and nailed the song to the applauds of the small crowd who had piled in to witness that moment in time.

Her work on the Tom T Hall tribute album entitled I Love: Tom T. Hall’s Songs of Fox Hollow ( Co-produced by Peter Cooper) earned a Grammy Nomination and has garnered Fayssoux quite a following. She’s led her entire music career with class and honor. A show with her can give you a history lesson and some angel-filled sounds that will drift you away from all of your troubles. All of this being said, if you’re into to traditional classy country vocals that sing tales of heartache, healing and redemption all in a down-to-earth vibe, then Ms. Fayssoux Mclean is for you.

Here’s a video I filmed at The Spice of Life in Spartanburg featuring Fayssoux and Brandon Turner:

 

FAYSOUXX MCLEAN Upcoming performances:

Sat, Dec 1 Cribb’s Kitchen – Spartanburg, SC

Sat, Dec 15 The Inn at Meridun – Union, SC

Feb 2, 2013 Universalist Unitarian Church Coffee House – Columbia, SC

 

~ Jason Robinson

Jason Wallace Robinson hails from Spartanburg, South Carolina. He’s a writer, storyteller, philosopher, single father raising two children, music lover, dreamer, joker. He writes to speak for the Common Man. He enjoys football and driving around in his ’96 Chevy Lumina adorned with an American Flag and decorative bird offerings.

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