Joel Simpson has been a self-employed musician since 2001. Growing up in a musical family, Joel started playing guitar as well as singing/songwriting at a young age. His passion for music led him to earn a music business degree from Elmhurst University, and found Randomosity Records in Downers Grove, Illinois. He splits his time between private instruction, music production, and music performance. Joel is proficient on voice and many string instruments. His production work focuses on folk and jazz. Joel has recorded with Lee Murdock, Ashley & Simpson, The Chancey Brothers and many more.
Born and raised in Oklahoma, I started learning guitar at age 12, and teaching and performing at age 16. The guitar has been a wonderful journey throughout my entire life, and I hope that it will never end.
“A quartet the likes of which I haven’t seen since… Coope, Boyes and Simpson, the Watersons, or The Voice Squad. Just absolutely phenomenal!” -BBC Traveling Folk
Windborne combines bold and innovative harmonies, styles from a variety of cultures with traditions of harmony singing, and a vocal blend that comes from longtime friendship and years of singing together. They also carry on the alliance of folk music and social activism, breathing new life into songs of change from the past that still ring true in modern times.
“The best musical discovery of the year…Stunningly powerful vocal harmony… Windborne sets a new bar for folk harmony singing today” -Brian O’Donovan, WGBH-NPR
Hear Windborne in action:
Song of the Lower Classes – a protest song from the Chartists in England in the 1840s, a grassroots movement for voting rights
Stabat Mater (Corsica) live in Mont-Saint-Michel – a traditional setting of the Stabat Mater text from southern Corsica. A clip of this video went viral on TikTok in 2021, getting over 2 million views!
The Song of Hard Times – Windborne’s arrangement and expansion of a song from the 1930s, found in the archives at the Library of Congress
Instagram / TikTok: @WindborneSingers
MORE ABOUT WINDBORNE:
Internationally acclaimed vocal ensemble Windborne is a group of vocal chameleons who specialize in close harmony singing, shifting effortlessly between drastically different styles of traditional music within the same concert. Their musical knowledge spans many cultures, but they remain deeply rooted in American folk singing traditions – a typical concert program includes music ranging from American labor anthems and English ballads to ancient Corsican polyphony and traditional Quebecois tunes.
Hailed as “the most exciting vocal group in a generation,” Lynn Mahoney Rowan, Will Thomas Rowan, Lauren Breunig, and Jeremy Carter-Gordon share a vibrant energy onstage – their connection to each other and to the music clearly evident. They educate as they entertain, telling stories about the music and explaining the characteristics and stylistic elements of the traditions in which they sing.
But there’s another, crucial dimension to Windborne. They are adherents to folk music’s longtime association with social activism, in particular its ties to the labor and civil rights movements and others that champion the poor, the working class, and the disenfranchised. Breathing new life into old songs, they seek out music from movements over the past 400 years and sing them for the struggles of today’s world. They believe deeply in the power of music to change hearts.
In addition to performing in New England and around the world, Windborne has taught workshops in schools, community centers, singing camps, and universities. Seasoned teachers and song-leaders, they delight groups young and old with enthusiastic, clear, and nuanced instruction for musicians of all levels of experience. Singers not only learn the notes of a song, but also work on the varied vocal styles, language pronunciation, and gain an understanding of the song in its original cultural context.
In 2014, Windborne was one of 10 groups selected by American Music Abroad and the US Department of State to tour as cultural ambassadors through music. They traveled to Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Angola, touring with internationally known artists, performing at sold-out national theaters, and collaborating with traditional musicians in each country. They also taught music and dance workshops to schoolchildren, English-language learners, dance schools, choirs, and music conservatories.
Erin McKeown is a musician, writer, and producer known internationally for her prolific disregard of stylistic boundaries. Her brash and clever electric guitar playing is something to see. Her singing voice is truly unique —clear, cool, and collected. Over the last 20 years, she has performed around the world, released 11 full length albums, and written for film, television, and theater, all the while refining her distinctive and challenging mix of American musical forms.
Her first musical, Miss You Like Hell, written with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Quiara Alegría Hudes, opened Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in 2018. It was nominated for 5 Drama Desk Awards, including Best Lyrics, Best Music and Best Orchestrations, and The Wall Street Journal named it Best Musical of 2018.
Leading her own band, she has performed at Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and the Newport Folk Festivals. A familiar presence on NPR and the BBC, McKeown’s songs have also appeared in numerous commercials and television shows.
While a student at Brown University, Erin was a resident artist at Providence, RI’s revolutionary community arts organization AS220. A 2011-2012 fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center For Internet & Society, she is also the recipient of a 2016 writing fellowship from The Studios of Key West and a 2018 residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. McKeown is currently a 2020-21 Professor of the Practice at Brown University.
Her latest album KISS OFF KISS is out now.
For over ten years, Robb Johannes fronted the Toronto/Vancouver rock band Paint (www.paintband.com). Over the course of four albums, two feature films, and over 300 performances from Pacific to Atlantic, Paint came to be referred to as “Picture perfect” (102.1 The Edge), “Best live act in the city” (Musica Mas), “One of the top acts of the year” (The Toronto Star), and “Intelligent people making incredible music” (The Examiner), bedazzling audiences with their multisensory stage show while delivering insightful social commentary through their music, art, and relationship with its dedicated fanbase; “rockstars with a sincere change-the-world-with-heart attitude… the next U2?” (Midnight Matinee). Robb is currently expanding the use of his 3 1/2-octave countertenor voice, composition, songwriting, and multi-media skills into a new project that is…. a question of when.
I am a singer-songwriter who has been actively touring Western Canada for 5 years. Prior to my most recent release, I attended several conference and showcase opportunities (Folk Alliance International 2016, 2017, 2019; AmericanaFest 2015, 2018; BreakOut West 2017, 2018) to promote and engage local and international industry for the release. After releasing my sophomore album, “Driving In The Dark”, international interest and touring opportunities continue to present themselves. I play 1-2 local shows in my home city of Calgary per year, if any and focus the entirety of my live show strategy around touring new markets, specifically targeting the UK and USA Americana scenes as this is where my music has been charting based off of radio play demographics. With recent bookings at the Philadelphia Folk Fest, several tour dates with Sarah Shook and other US plays, we are hunting for a US agent to continue touring and making an impact across borders.
Touring folk music performer specializing in community singing and song leading. I also do a variety of educational programs–as a solo and with the amazing Robert Jones
Liv Cazzola is a multi-instrumentalist, vocalist, songwriter, educator, and avid collaborator. Though based in Guelph Ontario, Liv is typically seen performing in Tragedy Ann or The Lifers, in North America and Europe. She sings to seek understanding, question the current, relish in the goodness, and create necessary change.
A prolific and highly acclaimed singer-songwriter, Orit spent eleven years living on the road full-time, touring internationally. She has released eleven albums which have received rave reviews and international radio play. A multi-genre passionate singer, whose dedication to the craft and ability to connect to diverse audiences have won many hearts over. Orit’s Jewish and Israeli background informs much of her work, in particular a passion for humanitarianism and peace advocacy. You can also hear her harmonies on several recordings by other artists.
Singer/songwriter/fingerstyle Guitarist from the Canadian West Coast.
Ann Zimmerman sings her native prairie into universal language and works magic from songs of life on the windy plains. Her confident Kansas style, compelling stage presence and award-winning songs have taken her across the continent singing a hundred gigs a year. Ann sings for and with children, families and adults. She tells stories and paints pictures with her guitar, her piano or just her voice. She regularly leads songwriting workshops for elementary and middle school students. On occasion, she performs spoken word pieces, plays autoharp and gathers a band. At presenters’ requests, her shows may focus on particular topics – food, gardens, weather, nature, rural life, human conflict, etc. – or historical periods or events – American Revolutionary War, pioneer life, historic Kansas.
Ann is a winner at the Wildflower! Festival, Great American Song and the Just Plain Folks national song contests. She appears annually at The Land Institute’s Prairie Festival and, beginning in recent years, the Walnut Valley Festival. With four independent recordings, Ann is also a lawyer and mediator, she runs a horse boarding stable with her husband near Salina, Kansas, and she is an elected board member of Salina Public Schools.
Singer-songwriter, lap slide guitarist, improviser, music educator.