One of the most celebrated and successful poets in the field began their career in 1999 with a break-up poem at an open mic in Boulder, Colorado. Gibson then leaped into the forefront of spoken word poetry on the national scene in 2008 when they won the first ever Woman of the World Poetry Slam. Author of three collections of poetry and currently working on an illustrated collection of their most memorable quotes for Penguin (Winter 2018), Andrea (they/them/their) has also released seven full-length albums.
The most recent album, HEY GALAXY (Fall 2017) was created in the midst of another project as a result of the current political upheaval in the United States. Gibson was working on an album entirely about love, accompanied by an orchestra, but after the 2016 presidential election they felt moved to put forth a more social justice-oriented project. “There’s a quote that says, ‘Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.’ I wanted to do that. I wanted to make something political and human and gutsy in its revolt. Something beautiful in its sweetness and rage and vulnerability. Something loud and tender at the same time.”
HEY GALAXY does just that. The sixteen poems on the album tell the story of our times. Whether it’s “Orlando,” which brutally relives the massacre at at LGBTQ nightclub and Gibson’s own struggles with coming out, or “A Letter to White Queers, A Letter to Myself,” which combats white privilege during the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement, Gibson’s poems awaken us with their urgency, honesty, and their lyrical meld of grit and beauty.
HEY GALAXY was written in heartbreak, in heart-mend, in love, in trauma, and in healing. In “Angels of the Get Through” a track written for Gibson’s best friend they plead, “You keep worrying you’re taking up too much space. I wish you’d let yourself be the Milky Way.” Elegant acoustic guitar behind their words helps dedicate and identify this poem to anyone going through a difficult time.
Musical collaborations both on Andrea’s albums and at their live shows are certainly unique to spoken word, but because Gibson has always written while listening to music, the incorporation of violins, acoustic guitar, and backing tracks felt natural on HEY GALAXY. “I always prefer making art with other people. I was thrilled to work with a lot of talented folks on this record and I’m looking forward to touring with them around the country.” HEY GALAXY features the work of Jesse Thomas, Andrew Joslyn, Chris Pureka and Bryan Wagstaff (who also produced + mixed the record) to name a few. Said Gibson, “I like to work with artists who inspire me into fuller expression, who help pull the bravest story out of me.”
Whether their art is de-stigmatizing mental illness, encouraging people to stay alive, bringing visibility to queer relationships, or inspiring activism that dismantles patriarchy, capitalism, and white supremacy HEY GALAXY does feel brave. On stage at packed clubs and theaters around the globe, Andrea will often announce that their biggest fear is public speaking or matter-of-factly announce that they are having a panic attack in the middle of their performance. This attitude might seem strange during a traditional show, but feels right at home here. The vulnerability of Andrea’s honesty makes the audience feel welcome as they are, which brings them back to Andrea Gibson shows time and time again.
Liv Carrow is a guitarist, songwriter and folk song collector recently transplanted from New York’s Hudson Valley to Davenport, Iowa. Her music explores the shadowy terrain of Appalachian melody and traditional balladry, crafting songs both strange and familiar that invoke American roots music, the British folk revival of the 60s, and the more contemporary wave of New England freak folk, with a sprinkling of 90s alt-indie earnestness. Liv Carrow‘s introspective songs draw from the rich history of the bardic template to weave poetic wordplay with captivating melodies, fingerstyle guitar playing and a clear, direct voice that can hush a chattering room. Currently based in Davenport, IA, Carrow has performed internationally and across the US. Her most recent album was released on Philadelphia label Single Girl/Married Girl. She recently recorded a yet-unreleased EP at Dub Narcotic studio in Olympia, WA and released a recent session on Daytrotter. She is currently at work on her fourth album.