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Lizzie No and Friends; IN CONCERT! Copley Square
Community Church of Boston
Boston, MA
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Lizzie No and Friends; IN CONCERT! Copley Square
We are enormously proud to be hosting Lizzie No at Community Church of Boston in Copley Square. We heard Lizzie's interview on NPR, and hearing her songs, were immediately moved to find out more, download her music, and invite Lizzie to join us. She will sing a house concert style event (all proceeds to performer) on Saturday Feb. 24 at 7:30, joined by some local young luminaries. Lizzie will also join us on Sunday AM on Feb. 25, for our annual WEB Dubois address, featuring Prof. Reginald Jackson (www.communitychurchofboston.org).


"Lizzie No carved out her own space in the contemporary folk scene with the March release of her debut album, Hard Won, which blends sweeping strings and shimmering guitars to craft a sound that's simultaneously understated and fervent."

--Billboard

LIZZIE NO



Anger that Heals   NPR Interview

As she was growing up, Lizzie No sang in her church's choir and played the concert harp. Later, she discovered Bob Dylan and started teaching herself his songs on the harp. But she says she wasn't exposed to much folk music in her youth  and she didn't really know if there was a place for her within the genre.
"There is a long tradition of black people playing folk music, but I wasn't really aware of it," No says. "It's not all that visible in popular culture, so it took me a while to find my way and see where I fit."
Now, the Brooklyn-based musician has put out the album Hard Won, on which she sings and plays harp and guitar. The title song, she says, conveys her realization that opposing emotions can coexist productively.
"A lot of women, especially women of color, are handed this idea that we have to be really strong for everybody and that our anger and our sadness and our confusion is dangerous, and that's something that I've internalized a lot throughout the course of my life," No says. "So the title track, 'Hard Won'  it really is a victory, a personal victory for myself because I had to get used to the idea that it was okay to get mad and actually have anger be a tool for healing rather than something that's scary."
YouTube
Another song on the album, "The Killing Season," came out of the grief No felt last summer, when she heard a string of news stories about people of color being killed by police.
"The worst thing that can happen to a person is to not be allowed to be seen as fully human in the complex ways that we all are," she says. "So I felt this need to start to describe my worldview and what I was experiencing. And I think I'm gonna keep doing it."
Web editor Rachel Horn contributed to this story.



From Paste Magazine


The harp is normally relegated to the concert hall. Its physically large and imposing, yet, sonically pristine and delicate. Its hard to move (especially in heels) and sometimes hard to hear, if improperly balanced amidst the other 80-some-odd members of an orchestra.
But for all the things this multi-octave stringed instrument can be, the harp is not often heard in folk music. Its not normally found amidst the working class or minorities, heard near the coal mines or the within the Appalachians.
And another thing the harp is not: For Lizzie Quinlan, the harp is not a gimmick.
Quinlan, who performs under the name Lizzie No, started playing the harp at 10 years old. The daughter of an African-American singer/church organist with a day job and an Irish-American Spanish teacher, she took to this weird, stringed oddity because, it was the most outlandish option within the category that I was given, she says. It was, she remembers, the weirdest one that you can imagine.
Sixteen years later, the harp plays a prominent role on her debut album, Hard Won. The 10-song independently released collection came out at the end of March and through its buzz, Quinlan is figuring out herand her harpsplaces within the wider scope of Americana music today.
Sitting in our Paste studio in Manhattan, Quinlan becomes defiant in her instrumental choices. Even as a kid, she realized that it was hard to play radio-friendly songs on her instrument of choice. She recalls, I guess theres an amount of jealousy that happens when you become a teenager and you realize that you have friends that play guitar and they can play and sing at the same time and they can play music that they would be listening to anyway.
In grade school, she taught herself covers by The Cranberries and Bob Dylan on the harp to make up for the disconnect. Later, in high school and in college at Stanford, she jammed with others, playing songs by The Dixie Chicks and The Avett Brothers. By the time she moved to Brooklyn in 2015 and started playing with local folk group Devil in the Deep Blue Sea, she began writing even more of her own songs.
I started to feel like there was music I was writing [for Devil in the Deep Blue Sea] that didnt fit into that sound, she says. And even though what Im doing is still folky, its a little bit more personal and I have to be accountable for every song.
And even though what Im doing is still folky, its a little bit more personal and I have to be accountable for every song.
Eventually those songs she saved became the body of Hard Won. And while harpists like Alice Coltrane and Joanna Newsom served as musical influences, she never tried to emulate them. Quinlans interpretation of folk music on a decidedly un-folksy instrument was all hers.
In fact, the harps timber reveals itself in a few ways throughout the record. On the gorgeous, pastoral single The Mountaineer, the harp opens the track with arpeggiated triplets. Later on Outlaws, a track that won American Songwriter Magazines Lyrics Contest in 2016, simple plucked chords introduce the song before a swaying guitar strum takes control. On The Killing Season, the rhythmic broken chords lay the entire foundation for her most lyrically poignant song on the record.
But Quinlan explains that theres a distinct musical struggle in integrating the harp in a natural-sounding way. Theres some tension there because there are a couple different avenues you can go down, she says. You can do the riffy, youre-specifically-hearing-a-harp avenuesome of which I do. And then theres the other avenue, which is like, basically-this-is-a-bass-in-a-band, and youre just playing open chords. I think both have their place.
Yet, so much of the focus on Quinlans admittedly cool primary instrument, threatens to overshadow her smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics. She smears emotions like fear, frustration, love and loss all over Hard Won, each affecting in its own right. In particular, Quinlan grapples with racial and social issues that still plague America, most apparent on the aforementioned The Killing Season. She sings in honor of the men, women and children of color who have recently lost their lives in a rash of racially-based police violence, Theres no telling our shapes apart when the killing season comes.



Eventually those songs she saved became the body of Hard Won. And while harpists like Alice Coltrane and Joanna Newsom served as musical influences, she never tried to emulate them. Quinlans interpretation of folk music on a decidedly un-folksy instrument was all hers.
In fact, the harps timber reveals itself in a few ways throughout the record. On the gorgeous, pastoral single The Mountaineer, the harp opens the track with arpeggiated triplets. Later on Outlaws, a track that won American Songwriter Magazines Lyrics Contest in 2016, simple plucked chords introduce the song before a swaying guitar strum takes control. On The Killing Season, the rhythmic broken chords lay the entire foundation for her most lyrically poignant song on the record.
But Quinlan explains that theres a distinct musical struggle in integrating the harp in a natural-sounding way. Theres some tension there because there are a couple different avenues you can go down, she says. You can do the riffy, youre-specifically-hearing-a-harp avenuesome of which I do. And then theres the other avenue, which is like, basically-this-is-a-bass-in-a-band, and youre just playing open chords. I think both have their place.
Yet, so much of the focus on Quinlans admittedly cool primary instrument, threatens to overshadow her smooth vocals and heartfelt lyrics. She smears emotions like fear, frustration, love and loss all over Hard Won, each affecting in its own right. In particular, Quinlan grapples with racial and social issues that still plague America, most apparent on the aforementioned The Killing Season. She sings in honor of the men, women and children of color who have recently lost their lives in a rash of racially-based police violence, Theres no telling our shapes apart when the killing season comes.
The fact that Quinlan uses an instrument thats pegged as so pompous and pretentious to connect with the peoplethe folkserves as one of her greatest accomplishments on Hard Won.
Translating the harps role, especially as a person of color, certainly wasnt easy, though. I give credit to my parents for wanting to put my sister and me in places that they hadnt been, she says earnestly. They wanted us to go to great schools in Princeton, even though we didnt live there, yet. We lived on the outskirts then. [They wanted] to put in in the position of doing the things that maybe, in terms of class or race, werent expected of us. And they just thought that we should get to do that if possible. And of course, they really value music and really value literature.
Though she's received funny looks throughout her life for playing this instrument and manipulating it in her own way, Quinlans either been unaware or hyper conscious of the skepticism. Im definitely more aware of [it] now, and maybe even more aware than I should be.I get nervous that people think this is a gimmick. I never want it to appear that Im making choices that are marketable, because really, Im just playing what I like. Pleasure is the starting point.

Location

Community Church of Boston (View)
565 Boylston St. (Copley Square)
Boston, MA 02116
United States

Categories

Music > Folk
Music > Singer/Songwriter

Kid Friendly: Yes!
Dog Friendly: Yes!
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!

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