Rising Appalachia returned to Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse as part of their Come to Life – East tour. For over a dozen years this hometown duo, Leah Song and Chloe Smith, has been producing music and living a life to help enrich the world. The healing nature of their music was apparent as I gazed around the crowd and saw nothing but smiling faces and felt the love in the air. Adding to the nurturing and healing atmosphere was the number of pregnant women I saw in the audience. There is no more grounding or unifying thing than the miracle of birth. Birth is one common experience that we all share. The path that we take after birth is what both unifies and sometimes divides us.
I had a chance to talk with Leah Long before the show at the Variety Playhouse to talk about their music and community activism.
Rising Appalachia‘s most recent single “Resilient” was written just after the 2016 presidential election when the country was feeling very divided. “We were all feeling very fractured and very wounded after that election. That song was born out of a feeling of anxiety and what happens to anxiety when we were able to really gather and remember that the people have a powerful amount of empathy, presence and connection still. Regardless of what may be said by politicians or how divisive they are we are still a very strong, very diverse and very connected community all across the world. It was a song born out of a lot of hope ” – Leah Song
“Resilient” by Rising Appalachia
“My voice feels tiny
And I’m sure so does yours
Put us all together we’ll made a mighty roar” – Rising Appalachia”Resilient”
Linking voices to make a change in the community is a role that Rising Appalachia takes seriously. Leah and Chloe came into adulthood as young and eager activists doing a lot of human rights work and social and environmental just work. Music was initially just a hobby but as they got invited to play more on stage they realized how powerful a tool the stage was. They also saw the power of public community celebrations and that they are a very needed thing in our very distracted digital age. Gathering together is a tool and in some ways has more power than a protest or writing a letter to a politician. With music we can ask questions and spark thoughts and get the community to talk and continue the conversation. At musical gatherings we also get the chance to rub elbows with people we may not meet or see in our day to day life. Creating wider circles is a wonderful way to make the world a better place.
“Wider Circles” by Rising Appalachia
When I asked about what it’s like to have a sister as a band mate, Leach shared that for a very long time there was never any competition between the two of them. That is still the case in their working life for the last dozen years as they have been working together and touring together. Their different roles on stage and varying strengths and weaknesses have allowed them to stay out of each other’s way and support each other’s voices. Of course things are not flawless, Leah shared, “We have expectations of one another that date back to when we were little kids and it’s hard sometimes to grow out of patterns with family. As it is with family it’s sometimes difficult to not latch onto old ideals” but by giving each other space to grow into who we need to be we continue to be successful.
“Fall on Your Knees” by Rising Appalachia
Leah wants every to leave their shows with an inquisitive and inclusive spirit. She wants their audience to walk away asking questions about the world that we are living in and how we want to live a better way. She also wants you to be tired and dance it all out and be a nice emptied out vessel.
“Resilient” is the first single off an upcoming album from Rising Appalachia. The sisters plan to return to the studio after the Come to Life – East tour comes to an end.