Gaelynn Lea / Ben de la Cour
Gaelynn Lea is a violinist from Duluth, Minnesota, with more than 20 years of experience. She began learning traditional Celtic and American fiddle tunes at the age of 18. During her college years, Lea started sitting in with various folk/rock musicians and developed her own improvisational style. Eventually, she began singing and dabbling in songwriting. Lea has played alongside many notable Minnesota musicians over the years including Alan Sparhawk, Charlie Parr, and Billy McLaughlin.
Lea has been actively performing throughout northern Minnesota and Wisconsin since 2006, contributing to a number of musical projects in the Twin Ports. Currently, her most active collaboration is the "Murder of Crows," an atmospheric alternative duo with Alan Sparhawk. Together, they recorded an EP titled Imperfecta in 2012. Their original song “When We Were Young” was featured on Sundance TV’s acclaimed drama Rectify in June 2014. Lea also regularly performs solo sets of experimental fiddle tunes sprinkled in with her original songs. Her aim is to create a meditative, layered sound that allows the listener’s mind to drift.
On March 3, 2016, Lea was named the winner of NPR Music’s second-ever Tiny Desk Contest. The video entry of her original song “Someday We’ll Linger in the Sun” rose to the top of over 6,100 submissions from around the nation, chosen as the unanimous favorite among the contest’s six judges. The very next week, Lea performed a moving Tiny Desk Concert, at which the show’s host Bob Boilen said “there was hardly a dry eye.” She released a studio version of this track on May 5, 2016.
Lea also loves to do speaking engagements about disability, overcoming challenges, and the joy of music. Lea has a congenital disability called osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bones disease. In recent years, she has used her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change. Lea believes society must make accessibility a priority so people with disabilities can participate fully in their communities and use their talents and gifts without discrimination.
Nashville-based Ben de la Cour has a uniquely modern, haunting, and darkly humorous sound that is all his own. Songs filled with tales of substance abuse, murder, and mental illness sit in perfect juxtaposition with playful lightheartedness and an ever-present glimmer of hope. After growing up in Brooklyn, he set out to see the world as an amateur boxer, bartender, and agricultural worker. He lived in Havana, Paris, London, Los Angeles, and New Orleans before finally settling in Nashville. It was at Nashville’s Greenland Sound that de la Cour recorded the 11 songs of perfectly crafted "Americanoir" that make up his second album Midnight in Havana.