Like her unusual chord progressions that always find an unexpected resolution, singer, composer and multi-instrumentalist Kela Parker followed her own path to her distinct sound that has been called “genre-bending,” “heady and tuneful,” and “enigmatic.” . From a family of classical and folk players, as a young musician growing up between Portland, Oregon and the Bay Area, Parker was always drawn to a different sound world. Though as a kid she listened to everything that was on the radio, as a piano student and self-taught guitarist she gravitated the most to alternate guitar tunings, the dissonance of jazz and blues, and classical music.
Parker first started playing out as a coffeehouse pianist, occasionally weaving her own piano compositions into sets of Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and Grieg. From there, she rediscovered her love for guitar and began singing and writing lyrics, releasing her self-titled debut album in Portland, in 2011. The eclectic mix of avant pop, stride piano, and indie rock was noted for its sharp musicianship and stylistic breadth. Her second album, the 7-song EP “Searching & Sewing,” released in 2013, was described as “like folk music–but folk music from a country you’ve never heard of before.”
For the next few years, after traveling regularly to the east coast for music, Parker moved to New York in 2016, where she worked on her third album with Grammy-winning engineer Rocky Gallo in Brooklyn, NY. Drawing from a well that reaches deep into the roots of jazz and folk as well as her own emotional journey, The Dreamer & The Dream is the result of a lengthy songwriting and production process that, like the artist, started in Portland, moved to New York, and ultimately ended up in Los Angeles.
The Dreamer & The Dream was originally about a character the artist first encountered in a dreamlike state, but also reflects her own experience of moving across the country multiple times in a few years. In addition to recording many of the parts in contributing players’ homes, on both US coasts, Parker also used field recordings from her travels to capture the feeling of moving between geographies. With this album Parker reaches even deeper into her ancestral musical roots and farther into her own personal mysticism. Adding world music pulses and ambient textures into the singer-songwriter’s already rich stew of sounds, The Dreamer & The Dream showcases the many rooms and moods of Parker’s accidental kind of jazz, her personal improvisation on the world’s collective folk-step.