Rachel Bissex, 48, of Burlington, Vt. died Sunday, Feb. 20, 2005, at her home.
She was born Dec. 27, 1956, in Boston, Mass., the daughter of Harriet Abeel Bissex and Henry S. Bissex.
She graduated from Newton South High School in Massachusetts, and then from Johnson State College in Johnson, Vt. in 1982 with a bachelor's degree in fine arts in performing arts.
On Sept. 28, 1985, she married Stephen Goldberg in Plainfield.
Ms. Bissex was self-employed as a singer, songwriter and an author. She enjoyed music, theater and community work.
Survivors include her husband, Stephen Goldberg, of Burlington; a daughter, Emma Goldberg, also of Burlington; two sons, Matthew Cosgrove of Bloomington, Ind., and Jonas Goldberg of Maplewood, NJ; four brothers, Donald Bissex of Melrose, Mass., Karl Bissex of Plainfield, Vt., Paul Bissex of Northampton, Mass., and Walter Bissex of Huntington, N.Y.
A scholarship fund for her children has been established. www.rachelbissex.org
"Between the Broken Lines" might look at life from several points of view-Suki's new start, Jackson's sincerity, or Dad's strength-but it's Rachel Bissex's singular perspective.
This latest album further explores her tension of opposites.
Bissex sings finely tuned folk about slightly bent folks. She writes lilting lyrics about paralyzed people. She finds a jazzy melody in suffering and turns beauty into melancholic ballads.
Indeed, you have to read between the lines to hear what's truly broken. Or, perhaps, what doesn't need fixing at all. In "Flying," Bissex tells us how life between the broken lines is a liberating place.
"I'm pressed against the sky, like I've been pressed against the ground...I don't know why I jumped, but now I'm flying high.." And, in the erudite and ethereal "Sean Connery Looks," Bissex speaks of the irresistible charms of flawed lovers.
"He's got Bukowski's philosophy and Eugene O'Neil's verbosity. The only thing that saves him are his Sean Connery looks....He inspires contradiction. What he says is often fiction..." In fact, Bissex is especially fond of the forbidden.
Her seductive "Hurricane Desire" even makes adultery sound ever-so appealing. "You met her down on South Beach with the ocean in her hair. The blood was coursing through you, like the boiling of the waves. You asked what she was reading. She put sun block on her knees.
And that was the beginning of secret trips down to Keys." One of the album's most cryptic, yet comforting tunes is "For Andy." Bissex penned this song for her long-time friend Andy Shapiro, who succumbed to cancer while she was making the album.
She seems to say that being broken is the route to a state of grace. For her, redemption is on a space-time continuum.
"The door's open, come on in. Don't be frightened. We know you've sinned...You won't get hungry, or feel the cold. We'll give you shelter, you won't grow old. You might be desperate, but you'll find there's strength in numbers. There's comfort in time."
Bissex worked tirelessly to get "Between the Broken Lines." Touring in the summer of 2001 won her both the coveted Wildflower Performing Songwriting Contest and the prestigious Kerrville New Folk Song Contest. And while her journey isn't about destination, she has arrived with this album.
-Nancy Stearns Bercaw (Nancy Stearns Bercaw has written articles for many respected publications,from the Korean Herald to the New York Times) "This recording is a vast leap forward from her previous work.
I found her voice to be like overheated chocolate poured on fresh strawberries." Jim Fouratt, LGNY