On Friday, November 6, Flying Cat Music brings acclaimed singer/songwriter Antje Duvekot to Phoenicia to perform at the Empire State Railway Museum located at 70 Lower High Street. The doors open at 7:00 p.m. with the show beginning promptly at 7:30. Admission is $16 or $14 with RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-688-9453.
Antje Duvekot is a winner of the Kerrville New Folk Competition’s Best New Folk Award, the Boston Music Award for Outstanding Folk Act, and a Grand Prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. She’s been invited to play the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Newport Folk Festival, and on Mountain Stage. She’s headlined the Celtic Connections Festival in Scotland and the Tonder Festival in Denmark, among others internationally. In 2008, Duvekot’s song “Merry Go Round” was featured nationally in a commercial that aired in a high profile spot during that year’s Super Bowl.
Acousticmusic.com describes Antje Duvekot as having “one of the most distinctive voices among contemporary singer/songwriters. Her pitch perfect, sweet, delicate and poignant soprano is truly a gift.” While Ellis Paul, who often tours with Antje, refers to her backing vocals on a number of his songs as sprinkling “fairy dust” over them.
Big Dream Boulevard, Duvekot’s debut studio release, was produced by Seamus Egan, founder of the quintessential Irish-American band SOLAS. The project was released on songwriter Ellis Paul’s label and quickly attracted international attention for Antje. It was voted “#1 Folk Release of 2006” by the Boston Globe and was named to the “Top 10 Releases of the Year” by National Public Radio’s Folk Alley.
The Boston Globe observed that “Duvekot has gotten hotter, faster than any local songwriter in recent memory. Her songs feel at once fresh faced and firmly rooted, driven by the whispery sensuality of her voice. She believes in the redemptive power of the shared secret; and is utterly unafraid to mine the darkest corners of her life for songs that turn fear into resilience and isolation into community.”
2012’s New Siberia is her third and most recent studio album, although Antje is about to release her fourth any day now. NoiseTrade Music calls New Siberia “a masterpiece of the modern folk genre” going on to say that it “…showcases Duvekot’s bold, sure-footed path through emotional terrain most artists dare not even enter.” In its review of New Siberia the Boston Globe wrote, “Her rise to prominence can be attributed to a paper plane voice fluttering through breezes with a reedy Irish lilt and keen lyrical sense of dignity and destruction.” Most commentary on Antje Duvekot tends to center on her softly expressive voice; delicate, light, and powerful enough to ensnare sorrow in gossamer threads, to be lifted up and carried away. But it is her songs themselves that leave the deepest impression.
“I think it’s fair to say that over all I turn to music in times of trouble and need as a therapeutic tool to get me through sadness,” Duvekot once said in an interview. “So my songs tend to be a little darker, because that’s where I tend to go for solace.” Solace brings transformation, it’s the moment when healing begins, and Duvekot unerringly takes us there with her through her music. As exquisite as Antje is as a vocalist, she is just as sublime a poet, one with a melodic flair to weave spells deeper. English wasn’t Duvekot’s first language; born to a German father and an American mother, Antje didn’t speak English before moving to the States when she was thirteen after her parents divorced.
When asked recently by an interviewer which is her “saddest” song, Duvekot named “Phoenix” off of New Siberia explaining; “It’s about my mother who abandoned me for inexplicable reasons when I was young.” That happened when Antje was nineteen, after her mother remarried. Duvekot went on to add “…unlike my other songs which tend to encapsulate struggle and always hope, this one is just plain dark.” Except that, ultimately, it isn’t. Even when Antje visits her darkest places, as she does in “Phoenix”, there is always a form of hope, of something somehow possible to be gained. She closes “Phoenix” with this:
I rose up like a phoenix rose up from your ash
You just turned your back and I’ll never understand
Though I had no armor you just let me go
into the night to battle with your ghosts
So I gathered up my sorrows
and I took them on my tongue
and sang them til the morning
when the sun came in so strong
I sang them til the daybreak
and that’s how I became strong.
Antje Duvekot’s long awaited next studio CD is complete and about to be released. Antje says it is possible that advance copies of it will be available for this show. But even if they aren’t, Antje will have her new songs with her to sing, to share with those present in the intimate confines of the Empire State Railway Museum in what promises to be a very special performance.