“Karen Dalton and Joanna Newsom melt together in the form of Gaelynn Lea and set about absolutely obliterating your heart.” -Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys)
“The way her voice resonates is so unusual and beautiful, like nothing I’ve ever heard before.” -Jess Wolfe (Lucius)
Gaelynn Lea was given the opportunity of a lifetime when she won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, and she certainly made the most of it. She and her husband Paul quit their jobs, sold their house, bought a van, and hit the road.
Since they left a little over a year ago, Gaelynn has played over 200 shows in 39 states and 6 countries. She has performed in the widest variety of venues imaginable – coffee shops, bars, schools, music festivals and performing arts centers. Gaelynn has been a featured performer at Music City Roots, The Kennedy Center, and even on BBC World News.
This tale of adventure wouldn’t be particularly remarkable if the music failed to deliver. But Gaelynn Lea has developed a “stop you in your tracks sound.” (Bob Boilen, All Songs Considered) Playing traditional fiddle music and original songs using her violin and a looping pedal, Gaelynn Lea’s “music is imbued with a melancholic poetry so potent it must be heard to believed.” (Isaac Feldberg, Boston Globe)
Gaelynn Lea performs from her electric wheelchair. She began playing violin 20 years ago after a creative music teacher helped her to adapt a playing style that suits her frame. Lea holds her instrument like a tiny cello and loops her classically trained rhythms and melodies “to create a symphonic cacophony that is both glorious in its reach and profoundly introspective”. (Collins de la Cour, Ear to the Ground) Her original songs explore the contrasting nature of existence – dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy.
Gaelynn Lea’s live performances can be overwhelmingly soul-stirring – Bob Boilen reported that “there was hardly a dry eye” at her 2016 Tiny Desk Concert. However, she is not all seriousness during her shows. In fact, Gaelynn is disarmingly charming onstage, “at once self-deprecating and plainspokenly funny”. (Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune) She regales the audience with humorous anecdotes in between songs, putting those in attendance at ease.