Premiere: Luther Dickinson Previews New LP ‘Magic Music for Family Folk’ with Melodic Lead Single “Are You Sure”

Hana Gustafson on September 13, 2023
Premiere: Luther Dickinson Previews New LP ‘Magic Music for Family Folk’ with Melodic Lead Single “Are You Sure”

Photo Credit: Joshua Black Wilkins

10-time GRAMMY Award-nominated producer, solo artist, and North Mississippi Allstars co-founder Luther Dickinson has premiered the lead single off his impending full-length album, Magic Music for Family Folk, due November 17 via Antone’s Records/ New West Records. The breezy acoustic number “Are You Sure” is accentuated by a soft yet pulsing beat, the artist’s signature bluesy guitar riffs, and melodic harmonies courtesy of guest vocalists Sharde Thomas and Sharisse Norman. 

Magic Music for Family Folk features Dickinson’s rendition of favored material from his childhood, originated by The Meters, Staple Singers, John Lee Hooker, Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson and more. The album includes guest appearances from Yola, Allison Russell, Lillie Mae, Sharde Thomas, Sharisse Norman, and Dickinson’s kin, his mother and children. 

“This collection of my childhood favorites was recorded for fun, at home, with family and friends, in the spirit of sharing. As a new father, I needed music that my family and friends could enjoy that’s also suited to my funky taste and organic, acoustic aesthetic. Having daughters altered my listening habits and it was hard to find records that we all liked, so I had to make one,” Dickinson said, before adding, “Everyone is welcome.” 

The 11-song set was produced by Dickinson and mixed by Jeff Powell at Sam Phillips Recording in Memphis, Tenn., and Kevin Houston at Dickinson’s Zebra Ranch Studios in Coldwater, Miss. The majority of the material was recorded in 2017 “during dinner parties, sleepovers, and play dates either in a social setting. I wanted to expose my kids to the joy of recording music. So we would invite friends over to the house and record, family style,” reveals the musician. 

After burning rough mix CDs for the family car, Dickinson packed away the project until earlier this year. He says, “When it comes to art or music, the perspective of time can’t be bought or faked. This record definitely benefited from fresh ears, as well as techniques and sounds I had developed over the years doing production and film scores.” Luther’s daughters initially recorded vocals for the album in 2017 and later overdubbed them upon this year’s return to the task at hand. “Having my daughters sing along with their younger selves was a unique sensation and document of their youth.” 

Today, we premiere the lead track off Dickinson’s family-ready set, “Are You Sure,” a song popularized by The Staple Singers on 1972’s Be Altitude: Respect Yourself. “Mavis Staples and The Staple Singers have been an influential force in our family. They set an example of love and togetherness for all, inspiring three generations of my family. The melody and message of ‘Are You Sure’ resonates with my intention behind recording Magic Music for Family Folk,” Dickinson offered. 

“My father, Jim Dickinson, learned ‘Old Blue,’ ‘Turkey in the Straw,’ and ‘Old Hen’ from his friends and teachers, Memphis musicians Furry Lewis and Gus Cannon. Passing his songs down to a fourth generation felt magical and inspired the title” he shares, beckoning to songs that appear on the forthcoming set. 

Despite the covers-heavy tracking list, Magic Music for Family Folk holds space for Dickinson’s sole original, “I wrote ‘Whatever River’ for my daughters as a possible portal of companionship—in case they ever miss me in the future. It’s my personal belief and practice that music is a realm in which one can commune with loved ones, transcending time and space. Therein lies the Magic Of Music for Family Folk.” 

Listen to “Are You Sure” below. Pre-order Magic Music for Family Folk. 

Music Magic for Family Folk tracking list: 

1. Are You Sure

2. They All Ask’d For You

3. Crawdad

4. Old Blue

5. Beulah Land

6. Old Hen

7. Turkey In The Straw

8. Chicken

9. Boom Boom

10. Pay Day

11. Whatever River