Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson

Andrea Gibson is not gentle with her truths. It is this raw fearlessness that has made her a kind of rockstar of the poetry world – a four time Denver Grand Champion who has headlined prestigious performance venues coast to coast with powerful readings on politics, global justice and gender issues. Now, on her fourth full-length album Yellowbird, Gibson's truths are more intimate and reflective. However, instead of softening her words, she buttresses them with piano, global drums, dobro and violin and accompanies them with music from songwriters Kim Taylor and Chris Pureka, and music inspired by Devotchka.

A powerful live performer, Gibson was the winner of the 2008 Women of The World Poetry Slam (Detroit), and has placed 3rd in the world for the last 3 years by the iWPS. She won a DIY Poetry Book of the Year and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her first book, "Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns." She has been showcased on Free Speech TV, the documentary Slam Planet, NPR, Air America and Independent Radio Stations nationwide. Now, Gibson is distinguishing herself amongst the other performance poets by bringing her love of music into her current work.

Putting the music together for Yellowbird came naturally. "I always write to music. And nearly every time I read a poem on stage I have the song I wrote the poem to humming in my chest. So for this album, I took the time to record that humming," shares Gibson. But not every poem is scored. "One of the powerful things about spoken word is you only have your voice and the poem. I don't want to lose that – so I have some pieces of just me and a mic. But I do like mixing things up- and I love the collaboration that bringing music into my pieces requires. I am thrilled with the music and musicians who lent a hand on this on this record."

In "Ashes," nationally touring songwriter Chris Pureka's lends a score that keeps a haunting pace despite the growing velocity of Gibson's words. Ohio-based singer/songwriter Kim Taylor contributed a sample on, "Maybe I Need You," a poem inspired by Taylor's hit song, "Baby I need You." And on, "How It Ends" a local Denver band performed a Devotchka-inspired tune of the same name.

Gibson' work on Yellowbird illuminates that the personal is also global, and for a longtime social activist it is impossible for her to separate the two. The poems are no less political or powerful as her most popular piece, "For Eli." Instead, they are born from a different insight. "There is more introspection than righteous screaming," explains Gibson. "The politics come with more questions than answers. But this year I started pulling apart the fibers of how we got to where we are and started looking closely how we might move differently- and in doing that, my writing changed."

"The Pursuit of Happiness" is one such poem, asking, "Have you ever heard your skull crack on a kitchen sink? Have you ever tried to blink the light back? Do you know the man who beat her had been ordered to fit five Afghani children in a single body bag? Is this your pursuit of happiness?" The softness of Gibson's tone is sadly reverent and underscored by piano.

But elsewhere, she pulls out truths from intimately dark places. "A year ago a fellow poet challenged me to start writing the poems I have been afraid to write. "From that point on, with every poem I've written I've asked myself what I'm hiding and why," says Gibson. "Many of them push me to edge of what feels comfortable to say out loud and to make public. But I think the truth is healing. I know the truth is healing."

Gibson, who tours over 180 dates per year, will be taking Yellowbird and it's recorded music on the road -- with summer, fall and spring dates already announced (see attachment.) Seeing Gibson live is an experience like no other, bringing audiences to their feet.

The Denver Westword said, "If slamming were professional boxing, Andrea Gibson would be the light weight you don't think much of until she's knocked you flat on your ass."

nicole reynolds

Nicole Reynolds has just released her fourth full studio record, "a fine set of fools," after mostly being migrant for the past few years and working on farms. She credits the farming environment with easing her writing process. "Most of the time, I get stuck [while writing a song], and here I can just go do physical labor for a while when that happens," she says. "In the city, I was writing in my apartment, and it was a little more claustrophobic. I could go to a coffee shop or something, but I didn't have work I could be doing that was so different from music." There's an air of authenticity to what Reynolds writes and records, and perhaps it goes deeper than the fact that she's the rare young folkie who actually bales hay now and then.

Mary Lambert

Mary Lambert is good at two things; crying and singing. Nowhere is this better reflected than on her debut EP 'letters don't talk' released in July of 2012. Burrowed away with her friends in the woods of Sequim, Washington recording with the production team of Dungeness Records, she spent 2 years finessing the poignant and earnest collection of songs. In 'letters don't talk', Lambert has carved a niche for herself, winding profound lyricism around breathy, haunting melodies.

As a performer, Lambert exemplifies the traditions of a singer/songwriter while melding a background in spoken-word. With the powerful body-image poem "I Know Girls (Body Love)" going viral on youtube, letters firmly established Mary as a formidable unsigned artist. This status was cemented when the lesbian singer-songwriter paired up with the internationally acclaimed hip-hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis to help write and sing their revolutionary single, "Same Love". The track, an honoring of gay marriage, has led Mary to tour nationally with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, allowed her to reach millions by performing live on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, VH1, and garnered tens of millions of views on YouTube. "Same Love" has reached platinum in Australia, charted #1 in January, and has peaked at #101 on Billboard. It is no wonder that Mary has become one of the most talked about new artists in Seattle.

Mary is a music composition graduate of the prestigious Cornish College of the Arts. Surrounded by talented composers and faculty such as Janice Giteck and the Seattle Symphony's Adam Stern, it was at Cornish that she honed her classical composition skills, wrote quartets, world music and a full symphony piece for the Seattle Philharmonic. Although established as a bright modern composer, Mary's songs are far from the pretension of academia. Her writing is accessible and thoughtful, and her charisma and sense of humor shine on stage, providing a striking juxtaposition for her thought-provoking and sometimes dark lyricism.

Lambert self-released her debut book of poetry, "500 Tips for Fat Girls", and embarked on a Northeastern U.S and Canadian tour. The book is a vulnerable depiction of body image, rape, incest, and homosexuality. Lambert says of the work: " To me, most curvy women end up having to navigate themselves through a frustrating process to find self-love. I think that that navigation to self-love is universal. This book is a collection of poetry exploring that… I believe in the power of vulnerability. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, we have the most beautiful opportunity to find human connection, to see humanity in it's greatest light."

Mary Lambert is also revered as an accomplished spoken word artist. She competed in Russell Simmons' "Brave New Voices" International Competition in 2008 (on HBO), and was a co-founder of Seattle's first College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational (CUPSI) collegiate team. Mary Lambert is Seattle's 2011 Grand Poetry Slam Champion and the 2012 Northwest Regional Slam winner.



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