“Who the hell writes a memoir at 27?” Beth Ditto recalls asking a decade ago. “I did it for the money of course, because I wanted to buy my mom a house.” And, with Coal to Diamonds: A Memoir, published in 2012, Ditto wanted to help others who could relate to her struggles growing up in the South a plus-sized lesbian, poor, and abused. That big-hearted, open-booked sensibility also inspired What Would Beth Ditto Do?, an advice column she wrote for the U.K. newspaper The Guardian in 2007.
Thankfully, the singer-songwriter is still refreshingly candid and loquacious, even though she isn’t chomping at the bit to rehash her past for the #MeToo zeitgeist. “For people who survive trauma or sexual abuse and harassment, it can be triggering to go back to it sometimes. I’ve been really quiet about it. I hashtagged ‘MeToo’ on people’s pages and left it at that.
“I feel guilty about it sometimes because I haven’t been super-vocal, but honestly, it’s just because that’s where I have to be. It’s just too much.”
The big-voiced entertainer is most comfortable when commanding a stage. For nearly two decades, Ditto led the popular dance-punk trio Gossip, a regular touring act and festival favorite until disbanding in 2016. Ditto is more country and less punk these days, having revealed a folkier side on last summer’s full-length solo debut, Fake Sugar. A four-piece backing band will help bring the new music to life at the 9:30 Club on Saturday, March 10, the third stop on an international tour kicking off in her birth state.
“The first show is in Arkansas, heaven help me,” Ditto says. “You can’t imagine how many text messages I’ve been getting from cousins coming out of the woodwork. It’s pretty fantastic. I’m super close with my family. I made amends with them. That’s the thing with healing, too — there’s a lot of forgiveness and reassurance with different people. Especially my mother.”
And Ditto made good on that house for mom — funded by those memoirs. “She lives in Arkansas, so luckily houses are cheap. It was $117,000, on two acres. Isn’t that incredible?”
Beth Ditto performs Saturday, March 10, with doors at 8 p.m., at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. Tickets are $25. Call 202-265-0930 or visit 930.com.
Metro Weekly's Emails are a great way to stay up-to-date with everything you want to know -- and more!