Lucinda Williams Returns to the Stage After Stroke

photo: Danny Clinch

Lucinda Williams is back on the stage, and back singing after suffering a stroke at the end of 2020 that put some of her appearances and touring plans on hold.

In May of 2021 after missing a scheduled appearance at Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida, Lucinda revealed she suffered a stroke on November 17th, 2020. The 68-year-old was getting ready to take a shower when she began to struggle keeping her balance. Not being able to stand up straight, her husband Tom Overby spoke to Lucinda’s primary care physician, who told Overby to get Lucinda to a hospital right away. They called an ambulance, which took Williams to Vanderbilt Medical Center in Nashville.

At the hospital, doctors discovered a blood clot in the right side of Lucinda’s brain, which affected the function of the left side of her body. They treated her for the blood clot, and she was transferred to a rehabilitation facility where she spent nearly five weeks, until December 21st when she was discharged.

Luckily, Lucinda suffered no aphasia, meaning the stroke did not affect her speech or ability to sing. It has affected her ability to play guitar, and walking is still a little difficult for her, but “The main thing is I can still sing. I’m singing my ass off, so that hasn’t been affected,” she said at the time. The prognosis was for a 100% recovery. She kept the condition a secret including to some close friends until May as she worked towards her recovery.

Lucinda Williams also missed a scheduled appearance at Under The Big Sky Fest in Montana in mid July. But she made a triumphant return to the stage on July 30th at Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, opening for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit.

“I just got out of rehab,” she told the crowd. “But not THAT kind of rehab.” Apologizing for not playing guitar or dancing around, Lucinda alternated time standing and sitting on a stool as she started off with the song “Are You Alright?” and ran through some of her most recognizable songs in the 10-song set, including “Fruits of My Labor,” “Drunken Angel,” and her Randy Weeks cover of “Can’t Let Go.”

Only being responsible for an opening set is probably advantageous for Lucinda as she continues her recovery and regains her strength. She also opened for Jason Isbell on August 1st at the Red Rocks Ampitheater in Colorado, and opened for Isbell this weekend in Austin at the Moody Theater where they performed Saturday and Sunday, and will also perform Monday (August 7-9).

Lucinda Williams will play additional opening performances for Jason Isbell August 11th in The Woodlands, TX near Houston at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, and then in Fort Worth at the Panter Island Pavilion on August 13th before heading back home.

Lucinda Williams has also confirmed she will be playing one of her first headliner performance at Born & Raised Fest in Pryor, Oklahoma on Saturday, September 18th, and will also be appearing at Shoals Fest in Florence, Alabama in early October.

The voice and words that have entertained many and inspired countless other songwriters in country music and beyond over the years is still alive and strong, and now back on the stage where it belongs.

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