Elizabeth Cook admits her distinctive musical sound was influenced by two major forces: her legendary country heroes and her mother. But it wasn't until she began working on her upcoming album, 'Welder,' that the genre-breaking artist discovered there was an entirely different style of music she wanted to explore.

"I grew up with mainstream country, watching awards shows and listening to my mom singing Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn songs," Elizabeth explains to Nashville's Tennessean newspaper. "And the safe thing for me to do would have been to make a nostalgia country record. But for the first time, I'm beginning to approach some territory I've been trying to get to. I've started to get into a more pure and poignant and original territory."

Losing her mother in 2008, Elizabeth has worked through the grief largely through her music, including penning a song, 'Mama's Funeral.' It is, she says, a way she has found to honor the parent she idolized. "She was glue," Elizabeth says. "Soul and glue. I didn't realize how much she was everybody's personal counselor, and how exhausting it must have been. Her phone was busy a lot, with six kids calling her all the time. That song ... when I play something like that for other people, I find out whether it's just important for me, or potentially important for others. I tend to be self-indulgent ... with my writing, but I hope to do it well enough to reach people. Otherwise, I'm out of business."

Elizabeth's creative side is inherited largely from her mother, who often found solace in writing songs, and had begun the lyrics for 'I'm Beginning to Forget' before her untimely death. "She would sit on her bed in the middle of the housework and write a song," Elizabeth recalls. "She wrote dozens of songs, and sang them, but never really had a chance at recognition. But the other day, I saw where the lyrics to 'I'm Beginning to Forget' got quoted, and the writer said it was as if Hank Williams had a hand in writing it. I was very proud of that. Mama's getting press, and she doesn't even know it. Or maybe she does."

'Welder,' slated for a May 11 release, includes guest appearances by several well-known musicians, including Buddy Miller, Dwight Yoakam and Rodney Crowell. Elizabeth will join an eclectic line-up of artists, including the Dave Matthews Band, Jay-Z, Miranda Lambert, Norah Jones and several others at Bonnaroo, June 10-13 in Manchester, Tenn. Tickets for the festival can be purchased here.



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