My Brightest Diamond Shines

As Shara Nova, better known as My Brightest Diamond, looked out on the sea of faces at UNT’s Murchison Performing Arts Center on Wednesday night, she noted that she was especially grateful to see so many familiar ones. “Thank you for walking with me for a really long time,” the former student of the University of North Texas said just before launching into “I Am Not The Bad Guy.” Indeed, her Denton fans (and friends) have been following the successful musician since she was an undergrad at UNT in the 90’s. Nova, then known as Shara Worden, studied opera but she spent her free time developing her skill with other instruments, performing at venues around North Texas with the likes of Paul Slavens and Mingo Fishtrap. It’s that combination of classical vocal training and an eagerness for experimentation and a heavier sound that has formed the heart of Nova’s long-term project, My Brightest Diamond.

My Brightest Diamond’s most recent full-length album was 2014’s This Is My Hand but Nova says a new album is on the way. The four new songs they played on Wednesday night indicated an album focused on rebirth and strength in the face of adversity. Nova doesn’t shy away from taking a strong political stance in her new work. “You Wanna See My Teeth” was inspired by the story of Trayvon Martin and uses a steady, even beat to create the feel of a march forward toward something uncertain, but promises that if “you wanna see my teeth, I’m gonna show ya.” The song “If I Ever Get A Chance” focuses on a different sort of turmoil, the kind that follows the end of a relationship. The song touches on the familiar feeling of feeling uncertain about love and the determination to do it differently next time, singing “if I ever get a chance again, I’m not holding back.”

There were also plenty of old favorites in store for the crowd, too. “This Is My Hand” served as an aptly suitable introduction to Nova, her dynamic vocals and her penchant for movement. She spends most of the show dancing artfully across the stage, bouncing along to the beat or accompanying her lyrics with emotive hand gestures. As you might expect, Nova’s music is heavily centered upon her voice, and she uses it deftly. At times she lends it to a concerted cacophony of sound and, at others, she cuts straight through it. “I Have Never Loved Someone,” a song she wrote after the birth of her son, showcased the naked beauty of her voice as much as the simple truth contained within its lyrics.

Following the performance of the final scheduled song for the evening (“Inside A Boy”), attendees were treated to an encore one does not often see in Winspear Hall. Nova climbed off of the stage and into the audience, standing on seats and singing a flawless rendition of “Fever” directly to those faces that make Denton familiar for the artist, despite her long absence. For many younger audience members, the show is yet another example of the varied and intense talent that has developed within the town’s long vibrant music scene and a reminder that living in a music town has its definite perks. We, for one, can't wait to see which of UNT's illustrious alumnus is the next to pop by for a visit.

Photos and Header Image Design by Brittany Keeton