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Sunday May 28, 2017
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Anaïs Mitchell

 

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At twenty-five, Mitchell has had a quarter century to ponder her life as a musician, if, indeed, she started at birth, which seems entirely possible. She says, "I used to tell people I wanted to be a journalist. There is a lonely egotism and self-composure to journalists. Not unlike artists, they're always traveling, always writing, loving their loneliness, feeling somehow that they have their finger on the pulse — worshipping the truth and trying to render it legible."

Fox News journalists notwithstanding, it was a lofty goal. One wonders, listening to songs off Mitchell's two records, The Brightness (2007) and Hymns for the Exiled (2004), whether what she's doing these days — touring the country playing venues big and small, writing about what she sees and feels, crafting berblogs about life and books and politics and self and other — isn't far off.

Mitchell started writing at seventeen. Her college years, during which she studied languages and world politics and traveled to the Middle East, Europe, and Latin America, proved the springboard for a fine nosegay of songs. She recorded her first record, The Song They Sang . . . When Rome Fell (now out of print), in Austin in 2002 in a single afternoon. Then came a win at the Kerrville Folk Festival's prestigious New Folk competition in 2003, and then — presto! — a call from Ani DiFranco with an invite to join her label, Righteous Babe Records. Nice.

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