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Dar Williams

Dar Williams has become a major force on the New England folk scene. An idiosyncratic songwriter who writes folk songs from a unique, often insightful perspective, Williams takes pains to avoid the coy and the quirky; her songwriting and performing style has been compared to that of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, but with a few acidic and at times hilarious twists. She was born in Mount Kisco, New York, but raised in Chappaqua, the daughter of medical writer/editor Gray Williams and Marian Ferry, an active figure in Planned Parenthood. Her parents were educated at Yale and Vassar, respectively. Raised in a decidedly liberal arts atmosphere, Williams began studying guitar at age nine and wrote her first song at 11. In high school she was interested in athletics, but an ankle injury led her to audition for the musical Godspell. She became active in drama, and by her senior year, after composing more music and writing plays, considered herself a playwright. She blames an "existential crisis" at age 16 for her creativity and sharp sense of humor.

During her sophomore year at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, Williams spent a few months in Berkeley, California, where she wrote songs and performed at the Starry Plough. After earning a B.A., she moved to Boston in 1990 to find a career in the arts, dabbling in everything from directing plays and operas to performing. By the year's end she was stage manager for the Opera Company of Boston. She also began taking voice lessons and it was her teacher, Jeannie Diva, who encouraged Williams to try the coffeehouse circuit. Williams tried hard, especially between late 1992 and early 1993, but things didn't pan out, so she abandoned Boston for the relaxed folksy, artsy atmosphere of Northampton, Massachusetts, home of many prominent universities.

Williams claims to draw much inspiration from her home community. Her love of the folk scene stems from her admiration of its integrity toward honesty and real emotion, and a creative freedom not found in more popular music genres. She loves trying to use traditional methods to express the realities and foibles of contemporary life. After several self-released cassettes, Williams made her proper debut in 1993 with the independent Honesty Room to considerable critical acclaim for both her beautiful soprano voice and her lovely, intriguing songs. The following year she signed to Razor & Tie Records, which reissued the album. Her second album, Mortal City (1995), was similarly praised, and was followed by 1997's End of the Summer.

Williams performs on the college and coffeehouse circuit and has also won rave reviews for her festival appearances, including the Newport Folk Festival and the Mississippi River Music Fest, St. Louis. She issued Cry Cry Cry as part of the folk trio of the same name in 1998, and her own The Green World followed two years later. Over the next few years, Williams remained a major presence on the concert trail; she also recorded songs during a two-year trek across America and Europe. She hooked up with Alison Krauss, Béla Fleck, Dave Matthews Band's Stefan Lessard, trumpet player Chris Botti, and others for the impressive The Beauty of the Rain, which appeared in February 2003. My Better Self, Williams' most personal set of her career yet, arrived two years later, followed by Promised Land in 2008. In 2010, Williams released the career-spanning two-disc set Many Great Companions, which features one compilation disc of fan favorites and another disc of newly recorded songs from her catalog performed in an acoustic format. Williams' ninth studio project, In the Time of the Gods, appeared in 2012 from Razor & Tie. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

kathyholli50
I love her song Holly Tree. So haunting and beautiful.
vcoryell9
Lyrics posted for Iowa are actually lyrics for a totally different song!
benborko
Found her by accident - she wrote a book for travelling artists called The Tofu Tollbooth - a guide to health food stores across the United States. Decided I would try her music, and met my wife soon after who is a big fan. Favorite albums are Beauty of the Rain, Green World and In the Time of the Gods, but all of her albums have really nice works on them
decal_12
Not normally my type of music, but you can't deny a talent this overwhelming . Her live act totally won me over - self deprecating and charming, but with stories that really clue you in to the significant lyrical depth.
bethcrocker
I just saw her for the second time last week at the Handlebar in Greenville, SC and it was great!
Dar come out west, Love your talent!
I've seen her numerous times in concert. Great act. Hard to pick a best song but When I Was A Boy has to be right up there. Signed a CD for our elementary kids. Very nice in person.
eweiss84
No way could I pick a favorite song -- Iowa? Yoko (cracks me up every single time)? Christians and Pagans -- also so awesome!
I'm a huge, huge fan. Just wish she'd come back to Houston again. It's been 10 years.
Lovely song. I hate learning about great artist so late.
choperini117 0
As good live as she is in studio!!!! Maybe even better! What a sweet surprise!
I like Troubled Times. Sweet.
enguerrandvi i
don't know if anyone's pointed this out here, but Cry Cry Cry is not a Dar solo project. Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell should be credited in this bio.
"The Christians and the Pagans"..one of the best songs ever. I love you, too, Dar!
One of my favorite artists.
choperini117 0
Also, this might sound weird, but if her voice were my best friend.... I'd be very very happy. :)
choperini117 0
Dar, I've decided that I love you. (In that appreciative , respectful, I-don't-know - y o u - b u t - y o u - k n o w - w h a t - I - m e a n way. Just to clarify.) "The Pointless, Yet Poignant Crisis of a Co-Ed" keeps consistently making my day. I'm off to buy Mortal City very very soon........ . a n d start my collection from there. Yay for Pandora!

Not a bad song and a nice voice too
missymina
a true and masterful beauty
choperini117 0
Oops, it's called "End of the Summer." What is that W doing.
choperini117 0
Just heard "Wind of the Summer (Live)" and am entranced. Woooooooooww w w w w . I'm going to get her live cd asap.
melnychd
I'm SO disappointed that her April 09 tour cancelled Portland, Oregon! She is mighty!
got to give her a hug at the folk festival in Guelph Lake, Ontario. she was sweaty and wonderful. she speaks for all thinking women of my generation
simply one of the greats! My only complaint with her is her refusal to tour Texas.
rswitze1
Dar is one of my favorite artists...an d you're right Kimberly, that concert at the Filmore was incredible!
She was named for Radar, by her anagrammatic parents.
if you get a chance to see her live DO IT! I saw her play at Congress in Tucson and am ssooo glad I did. is such a great, fun, funny and inspirationa l musician! i wasn't a big fan, but am now
elderkin67
She and the audience were great at the Filmore in NY - not to mention, Shawn Mullins who was also extrordinary !
Ha, like anyone with the name "hitlersux" has anything smart to say about Dar. I saw her live years ago at the Lowell Music Festival, and she's not at all uppity. In fact, she's funny and easygoing. Go, Dar!
mtnscallme
hitlersux, you can't spell.
mtnscallme
Wonderful! Reminds me a a bit of Lynn Miles.
robert.kim
Dar William's voice and music just grabbed my attention out of nowhere. I'm absolutely hooked. It's mesmerizing.
it's storming right now, beautiful!
lauren.santo r e
I discovered this music at work and all I wanted to do was go home and listen with out disraction.. . s h e has amazing range and great lyerics
irish60
she has the sound of an early joni mitchell. need to hear more of her work in
order to hear if there's more passion in other vocals.
jboylan426
She has a beautiful voice
drewewhitman
RE: Echoes. Was this ever released? I can't see it not becoming a smash hit. It's great!
reikiree
About a Boy is, I believe, about how we are all the same, until the time when others' 'labels' define us. That song really speaks to me as I remember the exact moment I became a 'girl'. I grew up in a household of boys and did everything they did, until I went to kindergarden and wasn't allowed on the monkey bars or to play with the wooden trains ... because I was a girl.
what's "when I was a Boy" about, is she trans?
losaida
"What Do You Hear in These Sounds" is her best song. Especially clever to those of you out there who work as professional therapists.
She is one upidy b**ch.
She's my favorite singer! I saw her twice last year and both times were awesome!
I love her work and message, esp. in The Beauty of the Rain album. Laura in Framingham

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