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“You would think that the Finnish would have a lot of beauty to recreate in their art but surprisingly you find that the music is supremely dark and menacing. This is a traditional Finnish fiddle tune that I've adapted. It sounds like the apocalypse.”
Gaelynn Lea performs from her wheelchair. She began playing violin 20 years ago after a creative music teacher helped her to adapt a playing style that suited 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.
Winner of NPR’s 2016 Tiny Desk Concert, Lea now tours the country full-time, performing original songs and clever adaptations of traditional folk songs and choice covers. Her well earned platform also gives her the opportunity to give talks advocating for people with disabilities. Lea has recently graced the TED Talk stage to give her own experience of “Sexuality, Disability & the Journey to Inner Freedom.” I highly recommend giving this talk a listen.
I first met Gaelynn at the 2017 Folk Alliance Conference in Kansas City. Since then my husband, Ben de la Cour has had the opportunity of touring with her to open shows across the northeast and midwestern states. Her performance quality is transcendent to say the least and her influencing positivity and confidence has been a huge source of encouragement to our family.
This past evening she perform an unofficial showcase at Green Room Music Source’s official AmericanaFest party at The American Legion, Post 82. Because many stages are not made to be wheelchair accessible she didn't even bat an eye to the accommodations of bringing the sound equipment down for an intimate, audience-level performance. Lea comes across just as confident on stage as off.
But back to the apocalypse. She certainly wasn't wrong about the tones and cadence of the performance she gave. All I'll say though is that if her ‘apocalypse’ is indeed what it will sound like in the end of times, we may all count ourselves lucky to be caught in the rapture.
Peter Jackson, wherever you are out there, listen up! I know a woman with a fiddle who needs to score your next movie.