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Dar Williams: Independent Music
Dar Williams, Singer-Songwriter of "Folk Pop"
Dar Williams, a popular singer among fans of folk and women's music, has an adaptable voice that can dance from lyrical and etherial to playful and gritty. Her lyrics are funny, sharp, lively, fresh, like the best 80s pop, yet behind the play there's a lot of thoughtful insight into life, the environment, gender and other complex issues. She weaves word-poems with a catchy beat and a catchy tune that sounds simple until you try to sing along.
There's a bit of the Indigo Girls in her, a bit of Joni Mitchell, a bit Tom Lehrer and Loreena McKinnett, and a lot of Joan Baez. In fact, both Joan Baez and Pete Seeger have performed with Dar Williams.
On this page I'll share a few music snippets and a brief interview to introduce you to Dar Williams, then interweave a two-part biography with music videos showcasing a selection of Dar Williams songs.
Dar Williams and Joan Baez Sing: "You're Aging Well" - Album: The Honesty Room (1993)
Three of My Favorite Dar Williams Songs
Picking one great song from each album is difficult, but here's my favorites from her first three albums, reflecting the range of music she likes to record.
Three reasons to love Dar Williams
- She's got an incredible, unusual voice and clever lyrics.
- She's at her funniest when she's singing about the most important topics in our lives.
- She has the coolest babysitter ever!
Dar Williams Interview 2009 - by New York House Magazine
Dar shares some tips on green living in America, the "Promised Land."
Dar Williams Early Biography through 1997
Dorothy Snow Williams was born in Mt. Kisco, NY in 1967 to parents Gray Williams, a medical writer, and Marian Ferry, a senior member of Planned Parenthood, who raised Dar and her two sisters with a liberal New England upbringing. Dar majored in theater and religion at Wesleyan College and spent a few months at Berkeley.
In 1990 she moved to Boston and started working as a stage manager for a local opera. She began voice lessons and started getting her toes wet in the coffeehouse musician's circuit. In 1993, she self-released her first album, The Honesty Room, and moved to Northampton, MA. She began to flourish as singer-songwriter with a growing following in New England.
In 1995, she signed under the label Razor & Tie and re-released The Honesty Room, followed by the well-received Mortal City in 1996. Around this time, she opened for Joan Baez and was part of Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair, a traveling women's music festival. These high-profile appearances brought her to national attention in alternative, folk, and women's music circles. She released End of the Summer in 1997.
Dar William Live: "The Christians and the Pagans" - Album: Mortal City (1996)
Leave it to Dar to write a hilariously funny song about holiday tensions between conservative and liberal sides of a family trying to coexist without strangling each other.
Dar Williams Biography and Career Cont'd - 1998 - Present
n 1998, Dar Williams formed a group with singer-songwriters Richard Shindell and Lucy Kaplansky, Cry Cry Cry. They performed covers for some of their favorite folk songs, released under an album by the same name.
From 2000 onwards, Dar has returned to releasing her own albums under the Razor & Tie label, often collaborating with guest musicians from Ani DiFranco to Stefan Lessard of the Dave Matthews Band. Much of Dar's music has become fuller, richer, employing more instruments and a more polished sound compared to the simple folk singer and acoustic guitar style of her early years. She deals a little less often with heavy issues and plays a little more in the pop rock arena, but folk roots and reflective wit remain the bedrock of her music.
Dar Williams strongly supports environmental causes, throwing benefit concerts for the Nature Conservancy and Clearwater, and founding her own Snowdon Environmental Trust.
She has penned two books: The Tofu Tollbooth, a guide to green and organic food stores (recently updated), and a Scholastic book for grades 5-7, Amalee, a first-person narrative about a girl whose four "goofy" friends help her when her father, a single parent, comes down with a serious illness.
On the personal front, Dar Williams has moved back to New York, married old friend Michael Robinson in 2002, and gave birth to their first child, Stephen Gray Robinson, in 2004.
Dar Williams Links
The official site with her blog, complete discography, news about upcoming projects and concerts, and great photos!
A great Dar Williams fansite, with an in-depth song-by-song discography, photo gallery, biography, news, "library" of old Dar Williams press releases and clippings, and much more.
- Article: Dar Williams in the New York Times
"Singer With Insights Homed in Chappaqua," a February 1996 NYT article on Dar when she was first breaking out onto the national stage.
- Musician.com's early biography of Dar Williams
This bio only goes up through 1997 and the release of End of the Summer, but it includes some interesting comments by Dar as her music style began to mature and shift.
Dar Williams Concert DVD
Hooray! New October 2007, a DVD of Dar in concert, singing old favorites and new! Plus behind-the-scene footage and interviews.
Tracks Include: The Babysitter's Here, The Ocean, February, The One Who Knows, The Christians And The Pagans, Iowa, When I was A Boy, As Cool As I Am, Spring Street, If I Wrote You, Are You Out There, Mercy of The Fallen, The Easy Way, The Beauty Of The Rain, After All, Ripple.
Dar Williams Fan Video: "Closer to Me" - Album: The Beauty of the Rain (2003)
Folk pop at its best.