With their new album, A Joyful Noise, out in May, and their European tour now in full swing, the indie rock band Gossip’s lead singer is about to get even more exposure.
Today’s excerpt is from the punk superstar and style icon’s raw and surprisingly beautiful coming-of-age memoir, Coal to Diamonds.
Born and raised in Judsonia, Arkansas—a place where indoor plumbing was a luxury, squirrel was a meal, and sex ed was taught during senior year in high school (long after many girls had gotten pregnant and dropped out) Mary Beth Ditto stood out. Beth was a fat, pro-choice, sexually confused choir nerd with a great voice, an eighties perm, and a Kool Aid dye job. Her punk education began in high school under the tutelage of a group of teens who embraced their outsider status and introduced her to safety-pinned clothing, queer and fat-positive zines, and any shred of counterculture they could smuggle into Arkansas.
On a whim, with longtime friends, Beth formed the band Gossip. She gave up trying to remake her singing voice into the ethereal wisp she thought it should be and instead embraced its full, soulful potential.
Marked with the frankness, humor, and defiance that have made her an international icon, Beth Ditto’s unapologetic, startlingly direct, and poetic memoir is a hypnotic and inspiring account of a woman coming into her own.
Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir
Beth Ditto and Michelle Tea
HC: 978-0-385-52591-6 | eBook: 978-0-385-52974-7 | Spiegel & Grau