Once upon a time, two femenist-socialists escaped Oregon’s nose-diving economy of the 80’s and moved north to Kodiak Island, Alaska. There, a baby girl was born. But winters were dark and summers were short, so the family hit the road, traveling the country in a VW Van fondly called “Hannah the Van-ah,” eventually coming back home to the great state of Oregon.
So began the adventurous life of Arbielle, a singer-songwriter with wide eyes, a beautiful voice, and plenty of stories to share. Music was her was her joy through new friendships and discovery of wild places, and solace through the harder things. Her mama taught her to sing rounds when she was two-years-old, and she never stopped singing since. As a 14-year-old she began composing with Portland’s “Young Composer’s Project,” hosted by Fear No Music, and at 18 she moved to Walla Walla, teaming up with fiddler Shawn Dean of Kimberly, Idaho and guitarist Caleb Kytonen of Tacoma, Washington to play to exuberant audiences throughout the area. She also performed, toured, and recorded with the Whitman College Chamber Singers and Sirens of Swank (“A Day on the Farm,” 2005). After college, Arbielle was recruited to New York City by Teach for America, and lived three years in Brooklyn teaching high-school science, delighting in new people, and playing music in the hip and dirty Lower East Side.
Now she has returned to her home state of Oregon, and dug in as a recording and touring musician living in Portland. In the winter of 2012 she gathered a talented team of musician friends to collaborate on a full-length album recorded at Echo Ridge Music, in Sisters, OR, and this year signed onto Headphone Records of Electronic Boy Productions, who released her record this December. “Roots Grow Deep” is a sweet chronicle of growing pains, bicycles, broken families, funny coincidence, friendships, and coming home. Audiences from Orcas Island to San Francisco have come away from her shows admiring her honesty, wondering at her unique perspective, and humming her beautiful tunes. As an artist, she lifts up a universal human experience: what it is like to be Arbielle. Even if you are not a small person living a big life, a teacher and a farmer, a sister and a daughter, a lover of Oregon and every person you’ve known, you will know exactly what she means.