Rachel Nelson is a storyteller, songwriter, and musician whose passion is live performance. She sparks her stories with physical acting techniques, and often acts as her own “theater musician.” As a roots musician whose feet have been planted firmly in the tradition of live performance for over twenty years, she likes to push the edges out to keep roots music a growing tradition. Using fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, hand drum, and maybe a washtub bass, she mixes traditional Appalachian and Celtic music with her own original songs, which range from traditional simplicity to swing, blues, and jazz.
Nelson' original songs are showcased in the CD Change is a Thousand Hearts, exploring topics from peace and community to global economics and deep ecology. Her children's CD "I'm Awesome!" said the Possum blends stories with original and traditional songs.
Her upcoming CD will feature a mix of character songs, stories, and accompanied poems featured in her BardLive theatrical shows, including numbers from Living the Questions and The Urban Hermit. Visit her website at www.bardlive.com
“Rachel sings from the heart . . . She is irresistible.”
- Betsy Barnum, Great River Earth Institute
Alternative Musical Short Bio
Rachel Nelson’s passionate live performances connect with listeners. Mature, deft lyrics are seamlessly wedded to melodies ranging from Celtic simplicity to blues and jazzy grooves. Her sets mix traditional Appalachian and Celtic music with her own original songs, which range from traditional simplicity to swing, blues, and jazz.
Her originals songs are showcased in the CD Change is a Thousand Hearts. Her children's CD I'm Awesome! said the Possum adds original and true stories to the songs and music. Visit her website at www.bardlive.com.
And They Said…
"Rachel Nelson . . . uses her edgy presence and piercing gaze to fill the black space and captivate her audience." -Minneapolis Star Tribune, reviewing MN Fringe show Living the Questions
"intense and provocative . . . mesmerizes and engages." - storyteller Andre Heuer
“Rachel Nelson['s] singing and idealism recall Joan Baez. Change is a Thousand Hearts features many songs about peace and compassion that speak to the times.” - Chris Riemenschneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune
“With a voice recalling 19th century Appalachia, a wonderful fiddle technique, and lone guitar-based songs, Rachel Nelson has emerged as a musical voice for peace.” - Lydia Howell, Pulse of the Twin Cities
"Although she is best known as a musician, Ms. Nelson found storytelling to be a natural extension of her studies in English literature and her love of oral performance...Her new children's CD...features three stories, two accompanied by fiddle music. - Caren Neile, Healing Story Alliance Newsletter, Winter, 2004
“Rachel sings from the heart . . . She is irresistible.” - Betsy Barnum, Great River Earth Institute
“Rachel brings an energy and a joy to her music that outshines all of the other 12 artists with whom I have worked.” - Amy O’Neal, Wilson Technical College, NC
“Come hear the sassy, social issue-oriented-songs of Rachel Nelson with her new CD, Change is a Thousand Hearts.” - Jodi Ritter of The Granary Girls
"Rachel Nelson's work on fiddle and banjo is a sparkling addition to the [Granary Girls'] enduring message: at the end of the day, it is still and always love that gives life meaning. - Andrew Calhoun, Waterbug Records, reviewing the Wild Roses CD by the Granary Girls
Rachel Nelson CDs
Crazy Bay - upcoming new CD
Rachel is raising funds to finish her upcoming CD, Crazy Bay, with songs reflecting her move up to the North Shore of Lake Superior. More info here.
Change is a Thousand Hearts -
Rachel Nelson’s first CD of original songs Change is a Thousand Hearts features a variety of acoustic genres, from Celtic to swing to “urban folk.” This seasoned live performer adapts her voice to each genre, assembling the CD as she would a live set. Each cut explores a different facet of change--personal, political, or global.
These songs will draw listeners back again and again. Here is a melody-driven songwriter who crafts her lyrics to fit the tune so they are delivered to the ear on the first hearing. The melodies are generous and hummable; the lyrics challenging.
“ [Her] singing and idealism recall Joan Baez back in the day.”
- Chris Riemenschneider, Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Nelson’s exploration of change ranges from the personal to the political. “Into My Picture” and “The Possum Song” explore the relationship with oneself, while “The Mirror” looks at interactions with others. She aims her political songs under the denial radar and straight for the heart, using humor in “Electronic Herd” and melody in “Peaceworker’s Farewell.” “In Spring” and “Woman of My Time” achieve poignancy by living where the personal and the political intersect.
Nelson’s vocals, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin are supported by superb side musicians on this CD:
Kari Larson on guitar and mandolin, Alexis Vaubel on cello, Bruce Heine on electric and acoustic bass, and Patty Kakac on harmonica.
"I’m Awesome!" said the Possum -
Songs and Stories for Younger Listeners
I’m Awesome! is a blend of songs and stories with repetition and catchy tunes to grab and delight kids of any age. Rachel Nelson and friends mix acoustic stringband instruments like fiddle, banjo, washtub bass, and guitar with mandolin, stand-up bass and hand drums to keep the musical combos changing.
Blending traditional folk songs like “I’m My Own Grandma” and “The Cat Came Back” with her own originals, Nelson includes stories with the music as she would in a live performance. Stories, although new in Nelson’s recorded work, have long been a staple of her live performances.
“I wanted to carry the energy of fun, hope, and possibility in my first children’s CD,” says Nelson. “That intention really influenced my choice of songs and stories.”
I’m Awesome! features a capella singing, old-time fiddle/banjo sounds, bluesey swing numbers, and some wonderful hand percussion by Kari Kjome. The "I'm Awesome!" Children’s Chorus joins Rachel on several cuts, inviting listeners to join in.
08/28/2012 Copyright BardLive Music 2012