Make your way on Tues., Nov. 9 to the Coffee Gallery Backstage and you’ll find yourself in for a treat. Singer/Singwriter/Actress/Storyteller Martha Gallagher will be performing; her first appearance in the LA area. In addition to her enthralling music, which encompasses a huge spectrum of genres, her instrument of choice is, not a guitar; no, it’s the harp. Stereotypical ideas about harp music will be blown to smithereens by this woman from the Adirondack Mountain region of NYS.
“Where that stereotype of the harp as a snoozy, snooty instrument that can only play sedate music comes from no harp player will ever be able to figure out!” says Gallagher. “The harp has an amazingly diverse voice, from grand and exhilerating to magical and mezmerizing to bold and beautiful; it’s an incredible instrument!”
Gallagher goes a step furtherand lets her harp delve into the realm of down and dirty, playing the blues.
“The harp is the perfect instrument to complement a singer; it has a voice of it’s own, but can sing in unison or as a duet with the human voice in a way that’s down to earth, otherworldly and completely delightful,” explains Gallagher.
Where has this down-to-Earth-playing-diva been hiding, you might ask. Gallagher toured the US extensively for many years, with a number of her tours sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. She’s performed with such luminaries at six time Grammy winners, The Chieftains and been featured on BBC television, a number of Public Radio stations and Good Morning Arizona. Twenty-four years ago, however, she chose to stay close to her northeastern NY home to raise a family. Playing the harp, she found a lot of work playing weddings, benefits and social events.
“It’s wonderful to be an integral part of someone’s special day or event, but honestly, those gigs don’t satisfy my artistic soul,” smiles Gallagher. “I just love performing; not just being window dressing or background music, giving my audience a show that makes them laugh, cry, laugh again, think, smile and maybe even leave with their heart singing.”
Gallagher draws on a lifetime of musical adventures, from blues/jazzc hanteuse to classical flautist, from folk singer to rock n’ roller to celtic harper. Her voice has been compared to a mix of Janis Joplin and Joan Baez. Her original songs are inspired by every aspect of life, woven into song. Whether a jazzy number that bemoans her dubious housekeeping skills, wicked blues that expose a raw core, a jaunty little ditty that gets your toes tapping, a heartachingly melancholy lament inspired by a headstone inscription or a stunningly beautiful song of a mother’s love, her music speaks to her audiences. Her songs have a mature beauty and honesty about them, while at the same time they sparkle with a delight for life.
The interplay between Gallagher and her harp is more a duo act than a solo performer with an instrument, as they seem to sing, laugh, cry, and wail together.
The Coffee Gallery Backstage show will feature music from her brand new release, Ebb & Flow, including Jazz, Blues, Scandinavian, Latin grooves, Classical and World-inspired music.
Gallagher’s performances go, however, as she says, “beyond concert” and orbit in the realm of a one-woman show. She is an imaginative poet, a mezmerizing storyteller and a versatile actress. Her theatre training includes intensive studies with Shakespeare & Co. in Lenox, MA and The Celebration Barn Theatre in S. Paris, ME. She interweaves her music with exciting, dramatic, humorous and reflective elements. From short sketches to creative movement moments to performance poetry, she strives to create an intriguing, intelligent and entertaining experience for her audiences.
Gallagher’s adventurous harp vision has also led her to delve into the world of the digital musician by exploring the new territories of the MIDI harp. In this capcity, Gallagher has presented clinics and workshops as a visiting artist at such prestigious institutions as the Berklee College of Music and The Boston Conservatory. She has been a featured performer and presenter at some of the largest harp conferences/festivals in the US, including The American Harp Society National Conference, The Somerset Harp Festival, The Big Sky Harp Festival and Harp Con. Several of her articles have been published in both The American Harp Journal and the Folk Harp Journal
“ What I truly love is sharing music, ideas and inspirations with the people who come to see a show. What the audience brings to the time and space influences what I end up performing at a show. I just love tha tvery “in-the-moment” aspect of it; that it is only now and may never be again, but we we there and lived it!”
Martha Gallagher will be at the Coffee Gallery Backstage on Tues., Nov. 9, 8:00PM.. The venue is located at 2029 N. Lake, Altadena. For reservations and more info, call (626) 794-2424 or visit www.coffeegallery.com.
For more info on the artist, please visit www.adkharper.com.