Caroline Aiken has paid her dues. Best known as the performer who brought Amy Ray and Emily Saliers together as the Indigo Girls, Aiken has been an active participant of the acoustic music scenes in Atlanta, Seattle, and Greenwich Village for more than two decades. Aiken's musical tale began on the Georgia Sea island, St. Simons, where she was born and raised. Although she took formal piano lessons from the age of six and sang in the choir of an Episcopalian church, Aiken was more inspired by the songs she was sung by her nanny, Emma Lee Ramsey, who sang with Bessie Jones' Georgia Sea Island Singers.
Running away from home at the age of 15, Aiken lived on the West Coast for two years. At the age of 18, however, she retreated to the jungles of Central America and fell in with a cult. The political repression of the area soon took its toll, and the house in which Aiken and other members of the cult lived was raided. Two weeks later, Aiken returned to the United States, temporarily settling in a secluded cabin in Yosemite, CA. Although she returned temporarily to St. Simons, Aiken ultimately moved to Seattle, where she became a street singer. Before long, however, she left for New York, where she hooked up with a band. Things began to change after Aiken moved to Atlanta in the early '80s. An extended stint at Eddie's Attic soon attracted a loyal following, including the Indigo Girls. A turning point in Aiken's career came in 1985, when she was the opening act for a national tour by Bonnie Raitt. Raitt later contributed slide guitar to Aiken's debut album, Line of Vision. Aiken's other albums include two live dates, Live at the Attic in 1993 and Live Bait in 1995, recorded during performances at Eddie's Attic in Decatur, GA. Her live performances are an enthusiastic blending of original songs and tunes by such pop-oriented songwriters as Elton John, Don Henley, and Gregg Allman. Aiken has also produced and hosted an annual two-day musical event, the Dogwood Festival, in Atlanta.
Butler Field, Aiken's first nationally distributed album, showcases her eclectic approach to music. A Southern boogie-woogie tune, "Good Intentions," is balanced by the hymn-like title track, featuring vocal harmonies and guitar playing by the Indigo Girls, and a heartfelt piano ballad, "Hotel at Highway One." Aiken followed up her debut with the live album, 1997's Live at the Attic. Three years later, she released Cry Wolf and Writers of Silverwolf. ~ Craig Harris