Kelli Rae Powell is the tiny ukulele-wielding, redheaded stepchild of Billie Holiday and Johnny Cash. Whether she's growling out wry ruminations or purring her way through a drinkaby (a lullaby-meets-drinking song of her own device), she delivers the kind of consistently literate lyrics that once prompted Tommy Ramone to call her a poet.
The Iowa-bred performer arrived in New York City in 2000, and after making a name for herself in the city's underground ukulele cabaret scene, released 2006's "The Scandalous Accounts of My Youth." On the basis of that album, she was listed as a "Rising Star: Folk" in iTunes Essentials, alongside Bon Iver, Joanna Newsom and The Weepies. In addition, New York City's Deli Magazine named her an "anti-hero" in its coverage of the 2008 CMJ Festival, noting that her talents place her at the "tip of the NYC ukulele solo singer songwriter movement."
Ms. Powell's forthcoming release, "New Words For Old Lullabies," was produced by Ben Krieger (Anti-Folk at The Sidewalk Café) and mastered by Richard Morris (The Felice Brothers, M Shanghai String Band). The arrangements are more intricate than on her previous release, but she remains close to her musical roots, telling tightly woven tales that are both dark and edifying. Supporting Ms. Powell on the album are the musicians she has been performing live with for years, including Jim McNamara on upright bass, Dave Pollack on harmonica, Bryan Dunn, Michael Iannantuono and Tony Geballe on guitar, Andy Mac on drums, Nick Ogawa on cello, and The Ukuladies providing background vocals and atmospheric tap dancing.
The new album will be officially released in Paris, France at the Paris Uke Fest in July 2009, followed by a U.S. release in early fall. Throughout winter 2009 and spring 2010, Powell plans to tour select markets throughout the United States, including the Southeast, Midwest and West Coast.
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