Joanna Newsom

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Joanna Newsom
Joanna Newsom at the Sasquatch Music Festival, Washington. May 2005. 2005. Photo Shawn Anderson.
Joanna Newsom at the Sasquatch Music Festival, Washington. May 2005. 2005. Photo Shawn Anderson.
Background information
Born Joanna Caroline Newsom

January 18, 1982 (1982-01-18) (age 27) in Nevada City, California

Origin United States
Genre(s) Experimental
New folk[1]
Freak folk
Instrument(s) harp, piano, harpsichord
Label(s) Drag City

Joanna Newsom (born January 18, 1982) is an American harpist and singer-songwriter from Nevada City, California.


[edit] Career

Newsom was first taught to play the Celtic harp by a local teacher in Nevada City. Later on she moved on to the pedal harp and started composing.

Newsom studied composition and creative writing at Mills College, Oakland, California.

After touring with Will Oldham, she was quickly signed to Drag City and released her debut album The Milk-Eyed Mender in 2004. Shortly thereafter, Newsom toured with Devendra Banhart and Vetiver and made an early UK appearance at the Green Man Festival in Wales, returning to headline in 2005.

Newsom's work has become prominent on the indie scene, and her profile has risen, in part due to a number of live shows and appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live on ABC.

Her second album Ys was released in November 2006. The album features orchestrations and arrangements by Van Dyke Parks, engineering from Steve Albini, and mixing by Drag City label-mate Jim O'Rourke. On a road trip, Bill Callahan recommended she listen to the album Song Cycle by Parks, which led to his being chosen to arrange her work on Ys.

During her 2007 fall tour, Newsom began performing a new as yet untitled seven-and-a-half-minute song. In January 2008, Newsom debuted another new composition in Sydney, Australia. Then in July 2008 she debuted her third new song, a 7-minute piano piece at Latitude Festival in Suffolk, England, and later the same day debuted a fourth new piano composition in London.

Several of the songs on The Milk-Eyed Mender have been covered by her peers: "Bridges and Balloons" was covered by the Decemberists on their 2005 EP Picaresqueties. "Sprout and the Bean" has been covered by The Moscow Coup Attempt and Sholi. "Peach Plum Pear" has been covered by Final Fantasy (Owen Pallett) on the 2006 EP Young Canadian Mothers, as well as by Straylight Run. M Ward has played "Sadie" on his live shows[2].

[edit] Style

Although her harp playing is not completely divorced from conventional harp techniques, she considers her style distinct from that of classically focused harpists; Newsom once referred to herself as a "harper" as distinct from a traditional harpist. She has been strongly influenced by the polymetric style of playing used by West African kora players.[3] Her harp teacher, Diana Stork, taught her the basic pattern of four beats against three, which creates an interlocking, shifting pattern that can be heard on Ys, particularly in the middle section of "Sawdust & Diamonds."

The media have sometimes labeled her as one of the most prominent members of the modern psych folk movement, although she does not acknowledge ties to any particular musical scene.[4] Her songwriting incorporates elements of Appalachian music, avant-garde modernism, and African kora rhythms.

Newsom's vocal style (in the November 2006 issue of The Wire she described her voice as "untrainable") has shadings of folk and appalachian shaped-note timbres. Newsom has, however, expressed disappointment at comments that her singing is "child-like."[5]

[edit] Collaborations

Alongside her solo material she has played on records by Smog, Vetiver, Nervous Cop, The Year Zero, Vashti Bunyan, Moore Brothers, Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Golden Shoulders and played keyboards for The Pleased.

[edit] Personal life

Newsom's family includes her brother Pete, a fellow musician, and sister Emily, an astrophysicist who inspired her song "Emily" (and contributed backing vocals). Her distant cousin, Gavin Newsom, is currently the mayor of San Francisco.[6]

[edit] Discography

Early unofficial recordings
Contributions on compilations
Bands, Collaborations and Guest Appearances

[edit] Licensing of songs

[edit] References

[edit] Interviews

[edit] External links

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