Violinist brings music, representation to people with disabilities

Local News

Sometimes musicians come and go through a town with no strings attached. A visiting violinist is reaching out to a group of men and women, and giving them music and perhaps a glimpse of themselves. Gaelynn Lea performed at the Levitt at the Falls this past weekend.

There’s a wonderful connection Lea brings to every stage she’s on.

“The violin is just kind of second nature. You do feel really connected to it…”

That’s an understatement.

“When you bump it you say, ouch. And you say, wait a minute, that’s not my body. It’s my violin,” Lea said.

The pair travel the world with original songs and covers. Lea just played the Levitt at the Falls, and played another show on Monday at LifeScape. The crowd at LifeScape isn’t as big, but Lea says this show may be more important.

“Representation in the arts is extremely important. I think, on a wider scale, it moves the culture forward,” Lea said.

Lea has a physical condition called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bones Disease. This inspires her to be visible and play for other people with disabilities, because she wants to change how we view this community.

“It changes the dialogue into a more neutral or positive rather than, ‘I overcame this.’ Because, I didn’t overcome anything. I still have a disability,” Lea said. “Being represented is an important feeling, so you’re not invisible.”

Beyond that, Artistic Director for LifeScape Center for the Arts Jamie Richardson says art simply empowers the people there, and it helps to see someone they may relate to.

“It just gives people a tremendous opportunity to showcase all of the abilities. So often we focus on the disabilities that we don’t shine that light we need to on the incredible talent everybody has,” Richardson said.

There’s something wonderful Gaelynn Lea and her violin bring to every stage, and she hopes others connect to what she has to say.

“That you’re happy with who you are, that’s a good message to put out in the world, in general, especially among other people with disabilities. For sure,” Lea said.

You can see Gaelynn perform Monday night in Sioux Falls. She’s doing the White Wall Sessions at Last Stop CD Shop on East 10th street. Tickets are $5 and the event starts at 6:30 pm.

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