- MAY 2021 ISSUE of WESTVIRGINIAVILLE.com .
- FREE SUBSCRIBE: WestVirginiaVille.substack.com
- COVERSTORY: Lady D, In Her Own Unfiltered Words
- EDITOR/NOTES: The Art of Speaking Up
- ART/WORKS: A video gaze at new work by Sharon Lyn
- SHORT/STORY: ‘I can see clearly now.’
- RE/PRINTS: Consuming Blackness in ‘progressive’ West Virginia
- ARTIFACTS: The Bowie/”I Dream of Jeannie”/Chuck Yeager Connection
- RE/PRINTS: Community Seeks Reform After Shooting in Charleston WV
- SPOTLIGHT: Who is saying what as the opioid trial begins
- APRIL 2021 ISSUE: A ‘ninety-something’ issue
- MARCH 2021 ISSUE: “Be the Change: The tale of a song & its songwriters”
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH: “LADY D: A Conversation with West Virginia’s Queen of Soul”
You might say Doris A. Fields, better known as Lady D, is having a well-deserved moment. Several, actually. Lady D (or just ‘D’ to friends) is one of West Virginia’s finest singer-songwriters. The singer, based in Beckley, WV, is also on a creative roll. At age 61, she is producing fearless songs and fierce musical commentary, while kicking out the jams vocally with her crackerjack band, MI$$ION.
On the occasion of the recent release of her fifth CD, “Disturbing My Peace,” WestVirginiaVille interviewed Lady D on stage as she took a break while rehearsing with the band at the Raleigh Playhouse and Theater in Beckley WV.
In the interview with Douglas John Imbrogno (SEE TRANSCRIPT BELOW), she recalls waiting at a West Virginia coal mine’s mouth as a girl to see if her Dad would reappear after a roof fall. She remembers watching “American Bandstand” with her grandma while dreaming of being a singer. And she muses on reaching a point in life where she feels free to speak her mind, in a tumultuous time of pandemic and the high-profile, on-camera murders of Black citizens across America.
After watching the interview, which samples her title song “Disturbing My Peace,” see the full music video of the tune (below), a tour de force produced by WestVirginiaVille’s chief videographer Bobby Lee Messer. The video features the full court press of Lady D with her bandmates: Robert Gray (keyboards); Dan Bailey (lead guitar); Phil Copney (bass guitar); and Demetrius “Meech” Cross (drums).
CLICK BELOW TO WATCH: “Disturbing My Peace,” by Lady D and MI$$ION
To Purchase Lady D music and artwork, visit this link
Hear more from Lady D in the cover story of the Spring 2021 issue of West Virginia culture and history magazine GOLDENSEAL (available for sale online), which explores Black gospel and blues music. Lady D traces the history of this poignant music from the slave plantations of the Deep South to the West Virginia coalfields. She discusses how gospel and blues formed the foundation of modern popular music, and how they have changed while remaining true to their roots.
TRANSCRIPT of April 2021 WestVirginiaVille video interview with Lady D
My father, he was around 11, he said, when he started working in the coal mines. He would go in with a mule, and the lantern, you know, to check methane — that was his job. Yeah, I mean, there was lots of times when, you know, my mother would get a call that there had been a slate fall or something like that. And we would go and sit outside the mines, you know, all night sometimes until the men were dug out. Just to make sure everybody was okay.
My father loved West Virginia. He seemed to love working in the coal mines, too. He was very much involved with the UMW. Then, when he retired, he worked another 20 years as the Senate doorkeeper at the Capitol. I would sing at UMWA rallies and picnics and things like that because he would make that happen.
I don’t really label myself as a blues singer or R&B. I like to sing good music.
Me and my grandmother, we would sit up all night watching television. All day, especially on Saturday, we watched “American Bandstand” and “Shindig” and those shows like that. And I just knew, then, that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to be on TV like that. And sing.
SINGING: ” …. politicians telling lies, corruption rises, turn our backs when neighbors die. Don’t take a nap, don’t ride a bike. Don’t enjoy the sight of a bird in flight …”
I don’t really label myself as a blues singer or R&B. I like to sing good music. I love blues and I sing a lot of blues. And if I could do a complete blues show, I would.
SINGING: “… pandemic days, pandemic nights. This is our new reality. Trying hard to deal with this virus mentality …”
You know, I never — before last year — really sat down and watched the news. I’m not a news person. But, of course, during the pandemic, you were sort of tied to the news because you wanted to see what was happening. And then with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbury, I mean, you got more than the pandemic when you turned on the news. So, it was hard to ignore it. And you have no choice but to feel what’s happening, too. And so that’s where the songs came about.
It made me unafraid to be me and unafraid to say what I want to say. And how I want to say it.
SINGING” “There you go, disturbing my peace. Here you come a-wasting my time …”
It’s a lot different than what people expect from me and have gotten from me in the past. There are no love songs on this CD. I just had to go with what I was feeling. And that’s, you know, going back to again 2020, just sort of — me anyway — it made me unafraid to be me and unafraid to say what I want to say. And how I want to say it.
SINGING: “There you go, disturbing my peace. Here you come a-wasting my time. There you go, disturbing my peace. Give me back my peace of mind …”
The new CD is called ‘Disturbing My Peace.” And so, now, the thing is to promote it and try to get airplay, which that’s going really well! It’s not my first CD. This will be actually the fifth one.
I used to think about my mother. I would have to take her to the doctor or whatever. And she was past the point of being really polite about a lot of things. [LAUGHS] And I would think: ‘Oh, god, she’s gonna say this or she’s gonna do that!’ You know? And sometimes I would tell, tell her, ‘Don’t say that!’ And she’d say’ I’ll say what I want to —I’m old!’ You know! [LAUGHS] And, so now, I see what she meant. I’m not that old yet. But …
I feel like I’ll say what I want to say.
SINGING: “Politicians, telling lies, corruption rises. Turn our backs while neighbors die. Don’t take a nap. Don’t ride a bike. Don’t enjoy the sight of a bird in flight. Don’t drive a car. Don’t jog to in a neighborhood where they don’t look like you. Don’t drink coffee. Don’t eat ice cream. Don’t use the swimming pool. Don’t cash a chec. Please don’t protest. Don’t mow a lawn or have a barbecue. Don’t shop for clothes or blow your nose …“
“LAY THAT BURDEN DOWN”: A Musical Homage to John Lewis, Sung by Lady D: sept24, 2020: Check out the world premiere of the music video of the Ron Sowell/Jon Wikstrom song “Lay Down That Burden,” sung by Lady D and inspired by the life, courage, and heart of John Lewis, whose example is ever more needed now in America.
ONE WORK: “Misconceptions” and Angry Black Mothers: feb1414.2021: Lady D: “I decided on “Misconceptions” because that’s how most black women are viewed. It is a misconception that seems to have been perpetrated by a society that not only de-values us, but also fears our male children.”
COVERSTORY: BE THE CHANGE: The Tale of A Song and Its Two Songwriters: march4.2021: The COVERSTORY for our March 2021 edition is a twofer: Watch the debut of an original WestVirginiaVille music video of “Be the Change” — and hear songwriters Ron Sowell and Jon Wikstrom talk about the roots of their song and their long songwriting comradeship.