Where Classical And Folk Collide: Tift Merritt And Simone Dinnerstein Premiere ‘Night’

Wendy Geller
Stop The Presses!

At first, the combination seems somewhat off-kilter. An Americana/country artist who's self-taughtand always done her own thing...paired with a classically trained New York concert pianist.

But, like many seemingly strange combinations, the pairing of Tift Merritt and Simone Dinnerstein--who are releasing a collaborative effort, Night, which explores the common threads between such disparate genres as folk, jazz, classical, and rock, just works in a beautiful way. We hope you enjoy Yahoo! Music's premiere of the first video from this eclectic and exciting project.

The making of Night was not as easy as the butter-smooth sounds of its result would have music fans think, however. Both artists had their share of doubts when approaching the collaboration.

"I was kind of hesitant because I didn't even know how we'd have band practice," admits Merritt. "I thought were so many ways it could go wrong. I don't really play music that's on the page and she doesn't really play music that's off the page. I just thought it was a big undertaking--that we were going to have to start at the end and come up with our own language."

The two did manage to do just that, however, as Dinnerstein explains. "The more we got to know each other, more we realized we had a lot of commonalities in the way we thought about music. We were doing different genres of music, but a lot of the feelings that we wanted to express through the music were quite similar," she relates.

"And so we tried to think about songs that might work for both of us. And tried to find a place where our two backgrounds would meet and we were still authentic. We had an instinct about it, I've always felt that instinct is very important when you are a musician."

"I think to begin with, if you think of this record in terms of genre, it's not going to make very much sense," Merritt notes. "You kind of have to look at this record in terms of what genres have in common, which most times is a lot more than they don't have in common. I think we were exploring what those genres had in common, the seams that bind them--rather than 'oh we have to go over here, or we have to go over here.'"

"I was very worried about it," admits Dinnerstein. "But it was a really exhilarating experience. I've been trained in a pretty conservative tradition, where you observe the most minute detail on the page and there's a complete reverence for the score. It's almost like being a fundamentalist and interpreting the Bible literally--that's kind of how classical musicians tend to approach scores.

"Getting away from that has been incredibly liberating for me."