Dreama Newborn–”Brilliance Blues”/”The Dreamies”
Here’s a beauty of a record.
Dreama Newborn (1930-1991) was born in Delaney, AR. Her 1962 recording of “Brilliance Blues” is often considered the first recording to bridge the gap between the popular bubblegum girl-group sound and the village folk revival. Devastated by the suicide of her first husband, a promising young writer, “Brilliance Blues” was a tribute to her dead lover. The song had at once the rustic guitar strum and autoharp accompaniment of the folk movement layered with lively doo-wop vocal stylings from her band ‘The Dreamies’. It was a hit and created an outraged stir amongst folk fanatics. When the British invasion hit a few years later, she mysteriously retired from the music business. She spent the rest of her life in Amarillo, TX with her husband, a saffron farmer and local ferrier. She died of pleurisy in 1991.
Like Bobbie Hawkins, Dreama Newborn cut her career off short, although not quite as short as he. Her sound was so unique and frankly, it’s strange that it didn’t catch on more than it did. Newport Festival met Motown in this record, so few copies exist that it’s practically impossible to hear “Brilliance Blues,” but its influence musically can be heard everywhere. Carole King’s “Tapestry” is a good example (although very watered down) of Dreama Newborn’s influence. The song reminds me of Richard Farina…he was also a young writer and musician who died young (although his was not a suicide) a fan of using the autoharp.
As often happens, Dreama Newborn was barely out of her teens when this record came out. Her band, The Dreamies, were mainly young session musicians who went on to join various 60s psychedelic rock bands.