She gained widespread attention from National Public Radio in 2016 with her hopeful song "Someday We'll Linger in the Sun," but now Gaelynn Lea is getting a big break on Broadway for also having a dark side to her music.
The Duluth singer/songwriter, violinist and composer has been recruited to score original music for a new staging of "Macbeth" featuring Daniel Craig of James Bond fame and Oscar-nominated "Loving" star Ruth Negga in the lead roles. Tony Award winner Sam Gold ("Fun Home") will direct the newly announced Shakespeare production, set to open March 29 at New York's Lyceum Theater.
It was Gold who apparently picked Lea for the job, after first discovering her via NPR's Tiny Desk Contest and then digging deeper into her albums.
"He'd heard the darker, more Gaelic thing that I do, and said that's what he wanted," Lea excitedly recounted. Her haunting 2018 album track "Metsäkukkia" was one song that particularly caught Gold's attention.
"It's obviously a really heavy, and dark play," she added. "I've been studying it because I think it's important to understand it as best I can — which isn't easy in this case."
A classically trained musician who's also an educator and disability rights advocate, Lea earned prior experience scoring music when she and Low's Alan Sparhawk performed to the Lon Chaney silent movie "The Penalty" at Duluth's Zinema 2. She is working on the "Macbeth" pieces now, and then she will fly out to New York early next year to finalize and record the music — which will serve as sound cues and "background and atmosphere kind of stuff," she said, and not be anything too obtrusive.
"You can't play over Shakespeare!" she rightfully noted.
This score is one of several projects that have kept Lea busy at home since the pandemic forced her and her husband Paul Tressler off the road from their typically busy tour schedule. She's been performing virtual shows for her Patreon members and hosting her "Sunday Sessions" on YouTube once a month (next one: Oct. 10). She has also been working on her memoir, which she hopes to have published in 2023. There might be yet another chapter to add to her book after this Broadway experience.