Ep 33: Disabled Musicians
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Today’s episode features an interview with musician, performer, and songwriter Gaelynn Lea, winner of NPR’s Tiny Desk contest in 2016. Gaelynn talks about her activism, what it’s like on the road, accessibility in music venues as a disabled performer, and her new album Learning How to Stay which came out on September 7th, 2018.
Bob Boilen. (June 28, 2018). Tiny Desk Contest Winner Gaelynn Lea Returns With New Music. NPR.
Riley Cowing. (April 12, 2018). Violinist Gaelynn Lea Champions Disability Rights, but Music Comes First. Westworld.com
HalfAccess.org, an organization dedicated to making live music accessible
Lia Seth. (October 17, 2017). Accessibility and the Kids Who Go to Shows. Medium.com
Taylor Ysteboe. (July 27, 2017). Punk’s Ethos of Inclusivity Leaves Out One Major Group. Vice.
Classically trained violinist and songwriter Gaelynn Lea has been bewitching scores of fans with her haunting original songs and experimental takes on traditional fiddle music. Her work most recently won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, a competition drawing submissions of original songs from more than 6,000 musicians across the country.
On March 3, 2016, Gaelynn 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, Gaelynn performed a moving Tiny Desk Concert, at which the show’s host Bob Boilen said “there was hardly a dry eye.”
Gaelynn Lea’s musical reach has expanded significantly because of the Tiny Desk Contest. She began touring nationally in September 2016 with her husband Paul in their 2002 Ford Econline – and they’ve been on the road ever since!
Gaelynn also does speaking engagements about disability, finding inner freedom, and the power of music. Gaelynn 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.
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Sarika D. Mehta, Audio Producer
Alice Wong, Writer, Producer, Interviewer
Cheryl Green, Text Transcript
Lateef McLeod, Introduction
Mike Mort, Artwork
Theme Music (used with permission of artist)
Song: “Dance Off”
Artist: Wheelchair Sports Camp
“I Wait” by Gaelynn Lea, now available on Learning How to Stay (digital) or CD and other formats
“VOCODER countdown” by Jack_Master. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.
“8 Bit Beeping Computer Sounds” by sheepfilms. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons 0 License.
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