A Texas native, Tina Vernon is all too familiar with what it means to forge new frontiers. The writer/musician/performing artist is an eclectic mix who resides most comfortably at the intersection of bridging and breaking forms. Her debut EP, Flight Risk, pays homage to this gypsy woman’s early beginnings by mixing folk, soul, jazz and rock like you’ve never quite heard them before. Vernon is adept at penning portraits of human life with piercing emotional accuracy, and vocally delivering with all the candor of someone who makes no apologies for who she is or what she’s seen. You can hear in her work varied elements and influences from many of the greats: Sarah Vaughan, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Bill Withers. Although hers is a sound that borrows from everywhere, she finds distinction in the unique quality of her voice and lyrical perspective.
Raised in the small west Texas town of Lamesa, Vernon’s first taste of the urban metropolis was a move to Dallas as a teenager; a lasting impression if a complicated one. An interesting collision between country warm and city dweller sharp, her inclinations are as rich, vast and hilly as the landscape from which she sprang. Politically a sharp shooter, too, Vernon’s music is the bridge for her work as an activist in the world. She believes “art is at its best when it challenges the way we see the world, and makes us thirsty for a new one all in the same breath.”
Flight Risk is a unique project in that it melds Vernon’s music, for the first time, with her theatre work (she is also an accomplished playwright and actor) by serving as the score for WANTED, a performance piece exploring freedom, desire, and the question of belonging and identity. Inspired by Vernon’s time spent in a juvenile detention facility as a young child, the play fuses music, poetic narrative and multi-media to tell the story of what it means to be silenced by the circumstances of one’s life and the absolute necessity of reclaiming one’s voice. First read in New York as part of the Hip Hop Theatre Festival and then developed at the New York Theatre Workshop, WANTED had since been produced in Seattle in a co-production between the Hansberry Project, Theatre Off Jackson and Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. She joined the National Performance Network as a touring artist in April 2013.