Gaelynn Lea won NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2016, and she’s been on the road ever since playing her unique mix of haunting original songs and traditional fiddle tunes. So far the singer-songwriter and violinist has appeared in 43 states and 7 countries – she’s graced the stage of renowned venues like Nashville’s Music City Roots, The Kennedy Center and House of Blues Chicago.
Gaelynn Lea performs from her electric wheelchair. She began playing the violin 25 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 with her Memory Man pedal 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 “music is imbued with a melancholic poetry so potent it must be heard to believed.” (Isaac Feldberg, Boston Globe)
In addition to performing and recording, Gaelynn also does speaking engagements about disability rights, finding inner freedom, and accessibility in the arts. In recent years, she has used her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change. So far she’s been able to share her perspective on PBS NewsHour, BBC World News, The Moth Radio Hour, and through two widely-viewed TEDx Talks. Gaelynn is currently working on a memoir about her touring adventures and disability advocacy that she plans to release in 2022.