Performing over 200 shows per year throughout the country, Kristin Rebecca wins over audiences with her dynamic, multi-faceted approach to pop and Americana influenced contemporary folk music.
While bringing colorful musical narratives to life with her angelic, emotional, trained voice, the Maryland based singer-songwriter alternates between her two primary instruments, the acoustic guitar, and the folk harp. She also brings a winking sense of humor to the mix, both in anecdotes introducing the songs and sometimes in her lyrics – as she does with “Wackos and Weirdos,” the witty, infectious opener to her latest album whose title captures her expansive creative mission to impart Tales, Trials, Truths.
Despite the clever cynicism she conveys in “Wackos and Weirdos,” she traces her entire musical journey back to having a crush on a boy when she was 12. “He was four or five years older than me and played in the youth band at my church,” she says. “I always noticed the guitar player standing next to him. By the time I was good enough on the guitar to join the band, he wasn’t in it anymore! On the upside, I did play on and off in worship bands at various churches from the time I was 12 until I was 22.”
A few years into her guitar lessons, Kristin – who was also involved in dance and theatre – hit a creative plateau and started experimenting with some of her parents’ instruments, including the dulcimer and Irish whistles. While visiting a relative in Minnesota when she was 15, she walked into Groth Music in Bloomington, one of the few music stores that sell authentic Celtic harps. “Intrigued, I walked over, plucked one string and immediately said, ‘I want to play that!’” Kristin says. “I was fascinated by everything from the look to the sound that emerged when I touched it. My parents always supported anything I wanted to try, from dance to karate and horseback riding. So, they were happy to buy me a harp – and found me an instructor in Bowie, MD who taught classical and Celtic and had played in bands in the Armed Forces. My parents were scientists but had a side Celtic band themselves, so we became an all-Celtic playing family.
“My teacher said I was very natural with the harp,” she adds, “and over the years, as I started incorporating its sound, I realized that it was as extraordinarily versatile as guitar and piano in the patterns and sounds you can play. It provided the perfect complement to my guitar as a means of providing rhythm lines and harmonized with my lyrics. I’m grateful that my parents encouraged me to major in voice in college so that I could develop my craft as an artist.”
Fringe, released the year she graduated with honors with a degree in Vocal Performance, offered an initial taste of what would evolve into her modern folk sound. After taking a trip to Ireland Kristin – inspired by Irish folklore – returned to the Celtic harp roots she first cultivated at 15 for Where Fairies Dwell, a mostly traditional project that included several original pieces and one – “The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry” – that the legendary folk singer (and one of Kristin’s primary influences) Joan Baez recorded decades earlier as “Silkie.” The fantasy-themed album Where Fairies Dwell was nominated for a 2015 WAMMIE (Washington Area Music Awards) for Best Traditional Folk Recording.
Over the years, Kristin has had the pleasure of working as a session musician with many artists, including albums, singles, and music for an independent movie. She is also a member of Painted Trillium, a Maryland-based three-piece traditional Celtic band that performs at many regional events & festivals. Once featured on CNN, the trio recorded with the metal band Sound of Thunder on their album Metal Renaissance. Painted Trillium released their self-titled debut album in 2017.
“I have found from playing thousands of shows around the country that people really enjoy contemporary folk music,” she says, “and it’s gratifying to know that the idea of the storytelling artist like my heroes Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell and John Denver is still alive and well and appreciated.