RACHEL BAIMAN’s June 2017 label debut Shame was featured on NPR’s “Songs We Love”, called a “Rootsy Wake-up Call” by Folk Alley, and described by Vice’s “Noisey” as “flipping off authority one song at a time.” It was nominated for the Independent Music Awards Americana Album of the Year, and was the recipient of the Indie Acoustic Award’s Americana Album of the Year award.
Baiman’s Thanksgiving is an intriguing follow up to Shame, allowing her a chance to stretch out stylistically, moving effortlessly between bluegrass, to bolk, old-time and country. The 4 song project features special guests Molly Tuttle (with whom she toured the UK with in 2018), and Josh Oliver (of Mandolin Orange). The bittersweet lyricism she’s become known for conveys the push and pull of hardship and hope we often feel during the holiday season.
Raised in Chicago by a radical economist and a social worker, Baiman was surrounded by social justice issues her entire life. “If I wanted to rebel against my parents I could have become a finance banker or a corporate lawyer” she says of her childhood. While her classmates went to church or temple on Sunday mornings, Baiman attended the Ethical Humanist Society of Greater Chicago, a non-religious community formed around discussions of morality and current events. “That was always a tough one to explain at school” she says with a laugh.
As a teenager, Baiman found music to be a welcome escape from worrying about global politics. “I often found the constant discussion of seemingly unsolvable problems to be intense and overwhelming, and when I moved to Nashville to pursue music it felt like something positive, beautiful and productive that I could put into the world. Now that I’ve had some years to devote to music, I find it hard to escape from the values that I grew up with, and I feel compelled to write politically, to speak out about things that I’ve experienced or seen. Songwriting is a unique opportunity to do that, because it avails a more emotional vehicle for discussion. I love the political tradition of folk music, from Woody Guthrie to Tupac, and my hope is that this record adds another voice to it.”
Well versed in a variety of fiddle traditions including Old-Time, Bluegrass, Scottish and Canadian styles, Rachel Baiman is a versatile and dynamic musician. Rachel is a winner of the Midwestern Fiddle Championships as well as a two time winner of the Illinois State fiddle Championship and a second place winner of the 2012 Nashville Grand Masters Fiddle Championship in the “Traditional Styles” category. Her love for folk and acoustic music inspired a move to Nashville in 2008, where she earned degrees in Music and Anthropology at Vanderbilt University.
In Nashville, she formed 5-string fiddle duo 10 String Symphony, with fellow fiddle player Christian Sedelmyer (of the Jerry Douglas Band, Molly Tuttle). The pair continues to explore and innovate with duo fiddle arrangements for songs and tunes, their most recent album is produced by the great Kris Drever of LAU. 10 String Symphony also won IBMA’s Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year award for their collaboration with Special Consensus and Allison Brown.
She has toured extensively throughout the United States with 10 String Symphony, as well as with her own band, and has appeared at such festivals as Pickathon, ROMP, ,The Strawberry Music Festival, Merlefest and Blissfest, as well as International Festivals Celtic Connections (Scotland), The Mullum Music Festival (Australia) La Roche Bluegrass Festival (France), the Fringe Festival (Scotland), the Dorrigo Folk and Bluegrass Festival (Australia), The Auckland Folk Festival (New Zealand), and the ArtisTree Festival (Hong Kong).
In February 2020, Baiman will release a three song EP in collaboration with Singer-Songwriter Mike Wheeler. She will return to the UK this May with her trio, featuring Shelby Means (Della Mae) on bass, and Cy Winstanley (Tattletale Saints) on guitar.