Jennifer Goree: the voice of the Tufa

If the Tufa have a voice, it belongs to Jennifer Goree.

The Tufa may be the fictional people at the heart of my novel The Hum and the Shiver, but Jennifer is very real.  She’s a singer-songwriter from Six Mile, SC who has recorded three marvelous CDs that demonstrate such a range, it’s hard to believe the same person is behind them all.  You can hear samples of her current work here.

The cover of Jennifer Goree's first CD.

I first ran across Jennifer about ten years ago.  After attending the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, I’d decided to write a novel set in Appalachia, and to base it around the Tufa, an isolated ethnic group inspired by the Melungeons of East Tennessee.  I wanted music to be a big part of the story, because the historical folk music of that area influences popular culture to this day.  I listened to the classics, going all the way back to the Alan Lomax field recordings.  But I also wanted to know about the contemporary stuff, the music being produced by Appalachian musicians now.  I wanted, in other words, to hear the modern Appalachian soul. So on a whim, I Googled the term, “Appalachian soul.”

I found Jennifer Goree and the band formed for her second album Don’t Be a Stranger: Appalachian Soul.

We corresponded a bit, and I ordered both her then-current album as well as her first one, Jennifer Goree.   I knew I’d made a crucial connection when I realized the insert fold-out of Don’t Be a Stranger featured an image that could have been plucked straight from my ideas of the Tufa:

The cover insert for Jennifer Goree's second CD.

As I worked on my manuscript over the following months, Jennifer put out a third CD.  It was a total change from the first two: smoother, more electronic and heavily produced, yet still filled with her brilliant songs and voice.  And the title, both of the CD and its first song, jumped right out at me.  I bet you can guess what it was.

The cover for Jennifer Goree's third CD

I loved the implied dichotomy in the words The Hum and the Shiver.  I loved the metaphor, which could represent many things.  And it fit perfectly with the story I was already developing, about a rebellious Tufa girl who has to find a way to satisfy both her people, and herself.

I asked Jennifer’s permission to use the title, and to my eternal gratitude she agreed.  Because of that, and because I hear her voice when I imagine the music of the Tufa, my novel The Hum and the Shiver is dedicated to her.

2 Comments on “Jennifer Goree: the voice of the Tufa”

  1. I remember the bare beginnings! So indebted to Jennifer for her music and for her friendship to you!!! She, indeed, is the voice of The Hum and the Shiver!!! BTW, that song, itself, is verrrrry smooth and sultry!!!! 🙂

  2. I’ve read the Hum and the Shiver and hooked on the Tufa novels. Currently I’m making my way through Wisp of a Thing. Rockhouse is real scary to me and I must balance how much I read of him! Bliss and especially her sister Curnen intrigue me no end and Rob I’m in love with! Alex, the worlds you’ve created in all 3 of your series are very real toe. Thank you for sharing them! Now I have a new musician to discover in Jennifer Goree. Btw, my dad namede after the Appalachian folk song Darlin’ Cory 🙂 he plays old time blue grass and it’s very popular here in Oregon(pronounced Orygun).
    P.s. Might you travel out West & have a book signing at our world famous Powell’s Books?? Please please please! 🙂 thank you 🙂

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