With ghostly vocal harmonies and plaintive melodies, Anna & Elizabeth bring new life to nearly forgotten folk ballads of Appalachia in entrancing performances blending music, storytelling, and artistic visual elements both archaic and modern.
Formed in 2011, the duo of multi-instrumentalist Anna Roberts-Gevalt and vocalist/banjoist Elizabeth LaPrelle explore the rich trove of folk music born of the times and places referred to by author Greil Marcus as “the old, weird America” around the turn of the 20th century, made personal through startling new arrangements and settings. Born in rural Virginia, LaPrelle has devoted her life to the old-time mountain sound, steeped in the tradition from childhood. The primary arranger and driving force behind the band, Roberts-Gevalt is a multi-disciplinary artist whose deep love of rural old time music and work as a folklorist, puppeteer, filmmaker, storyteller, and illustrator have informed the pair’s unique musical and visual approach. Beyond their songs, live performances include spoken stories, film projections, and the use of “crankies,” a decidedly primitive but evocative form of visual storytelling using a backlit series of hand-cranked scrolls that depict the actions and events detailed in the music. The pair have released a pair of albums on the indie roots label Free Dirt Records, and their Smithsonian/Folkways debut, The Invisible Comes to Us, was released in March.