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I can't remember exactly when Amanda came up with the concept, so it's better to ask her about its genesis. But like the previous album, Jade, it is a project that spanned years. Amanda is prolific, and the challenge is to keep up with her in the recording process. Both of us approach that process as the most important thing that we do, the creation of art. That takes a lot of care, a lot of preparation, and a lot of time. And don’t ask me to master an album in a week. After the long process of laying down the tracks, editing, and mixing, a few months is more like it. I have to live with it over time and in different listening environments. Also, ear fatigue is a real thing and has to be avoided. Marathon mastering sessions are not where it’s at. In any case, Amanda is in the habit of coming up with these wonderful songs with great arrangement and presentation ideas. We always find ourselves with a backlog of material, a real treasure trove. At some point, after Jade, and in the process of constantly recording more material, a new project coalesced, evolved, transformed, and finally came into shape. A theme--more than one theme--was running through many of the new songs. And something was in the air anyway, the sesquicentennial of The Great American Trauma. A lot of elements were mixing from a variety of perspectives—lovers, soldiers, slaves, farmers, politicians, abolitionists. For years, I have taught the history of the blues, and have been increasingly involved in the pedagogy of students of African-American heritage. I had always been infatuated with the Ken Burns' documentary and still can't watch it without crying when I hear the words of Sullivan Ballou. I have a colleague, Dr. Marc Sable, who is an Abraham Lincoln expert. One day my mother casually picked up a book from her sister's coffee table, a biography of Mary Todd Lincoln, and has been hooked ever since. My association with the theatre department of my institution reminds me of the history of the Booth family. Looking out my office window, there was an old barn whose foundation was laid by slaves. I walk in a campus where once strode Jefferson Davis on one hand, and the anti-slavery Alexander Campbell, founder of the college on the other hand. And the faces in the portraits of soldiers, generals, slaves, the President… As my student and advisee, Amanda experienced all that as well. She also felt it pouring over artifacts, documents, and photographs kept by her grandparents. Together we researched and traveled to Civil War battle sites, and on and on. A complicated story wove its threads throughout the project that had taken us on a journey that kept unfolding through processes of inspiration, composition, arranging, performing, recording, preparing the graphics, and everything else involved with the creation of what was to be called The Hurt. I am not going to recite details of the story here, neither will Amanda. The album says it all for the listener who hears.