Story by Cheyenne Bilderback
She has one of those voices that once you hear it, you won’t forget it. Imagine this: Flannery O’Connor in a blues song. A Southern gothic melody that smiles the blues and wraps the truth in words.
Meet Adia Victoria.
With structures of rural blues and elements of old country, Adia Victoria carries a sound that is singularly her own. Like a good Southern gothic tale, the past becomes ghosts in her songs. These ghosts are found in the twangs and the stomps and the croons. These ghosts become the undercurrents as Victoria sings of the present, of her body—and of her body in the present.
Off her 2016 debut, Beyond the Bloodhounds, Victoria sings, “I don’t know nothin’ bout Southern belles/ But, I can tell you something about Southern hell.” On another track, she sings, “There’ll be days you’ll go dancing with your demons/ Screamin’ they seem just like your Friends.”
Native to South Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains foothills, Victoria left home for New York, eager for northern life. But she returned soon to the South, to Atlanta, at age 21. And in the move, she uncovered something new to her: delta blues.
Victoria describes her discovery to NPR: “I heard black inner lives for the first time. I heard this kind of soundtrack to what I was already going through. It was just like: Y’all went through it too! You’ve been tried by the same fire that I’ve been tried in, as a black Southerner…So I had to go back about 80 years, but I found it.”
Living now in Nashville, Victoria has a full-length album and two EP’s to her name. A multifaceted artist, Victoria also regularly writes and performs poetry. Her sophomore album, Silences, is slated for release February 22. Ahead of Silences, Victoria has released a new single,“Dope Queen Blues.”
The track is signature Adia Victoria: Sultry, heavy, and entrancing. It’s a “culmination” of her “ruination,” per the chorus.
Of the song’s origin story, Victoria said, “I wrote it about when I was down in Atlanta, when I lived there in my early 20s. It was a hazy, wild, debaucherous time. I was putting myself back in the shoes of that 20-year-old that had just absolute freedom. We were making money and blowing it. It was a carefree time when we revelled in all of our vices.”