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Joanna Newsom

Real name:
Birthdate: N/A
Status: Single

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

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

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.

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

The album Ys would go on to rank 3rd in Pitchfork's Top Albums of 2006, and "Emily" the first track on the album was listed 9th on the website's Top Tracks of 2006.

Alongside her solo material she has played on records by Smog, Vetiver, Nervous Cop, Scott Indrisek, Vashti Bunyan and Golden Shoulders and played keyboards for The Pleased.

Although her harp playing is not completely divorced from conventional harp techniques, she considers her style distinct from that of classically-focused harpists. She has been strongly influenced by the polymetric style of playing used by West African kora players. 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 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. Her songwriting incorporates elements of Appalachian music, avant-garde modernism, and African kora rhythms.

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

Newsom's family includes her brother Pete, a fellow musician, and sister Emily, an astrophysicist who inspired her song "Emily" (and contributed backing vocals). She is also the 2nd cousin (once removed) of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom. She has been romantically linked to musician Bill Callahan, otherwise known as Smog.


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