Gaelynn Lea isn't your ordinary classically trained violin player. While she's got twenty years of violin experience on her resume, there is one thing that sets her apart: she performs from her electric wheelchair. Since she has a congenital disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bones Disease, Gaelynn actually holds her instrument like a tiny cello.
Her original songs explore the contrasting nature of existence – dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy.
photo courtesy of Shelly Swanger
Over her twenty years of playing violin, Gaelynn has been developing her own musical style, combining her love of traditional tunes, poetry and experimental elements. Her work most recently won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, a competition drawing submissions of original songs from more than 6,000 musicians across the country.
After the success of the NPR contest, Gaelynn and her husband Paul quit their jobs, sold their house, bought a van, and hit the road. Since they left just over a year ago, Gaelynn has played over 200 shows in 39 states and 6 countries.
photo courtesy of Gaelynn Lea
Although the past year has been spent mostly on the road, Gaelynn has somehow found the time to work on her fourth studio album, If Only Love Would Be Our Guide, which is expected to be released in September 2018. It is an eclectic collection that runs the gamut with musical styles and features a Finnish fiddle tune!
photo courtesy of Michael K. Anderson
In addition to performing and recording, Gaelynn also does speaking engagements about disability awareness, the power of music, and leading an enriching life.
As a strong voice in the disability community, she uses her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change. Gaelynn believes society must prioritize accessibility so people with disabilities can participate in their communities and use their gifts without barriers or discrimination.