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er daddy played the fddle and her mama dreamed of singing in the Grand Ol’ Opry. Iris was born in 1961 in Paragound, Arkansas, the last in a litter of 14 kids! When the family farm failed, they ended up in rural southern California, where Daddy worked as a janitor. The whole family had always sung, both at home and in their Pentecostal church – for a time her sisters performed gospel as the DeMent Sisters. “My parents wanted the boys to be preachers and the girls to be singers—forget college and all that stuff,” she says. Besides gospel, Iris loved Johnny Cash, Aretha Franklin and Bob Dylan. She wanted to write her own songs, but, “I was so intimidated by the idea of these people who could really write songs that I could never get one right for me.”