|Shows at the Purple Fiddle
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Mariee Sioux Sobonya was born on the Humboldt coast in Arcata, California. When she was two her family moved to the Sierra Nevada foothills in the Yuba River watershed in Northern California, to pursue their dream of farming and living off the land. She was raised on their small farm whose surrounding lands were originally occupied by the Nisenan people before the cultural and environmental decimation that occurred at the hands of expansionist migrants and settlers during the gold rush, and has come to be known as Nevada City (the Nisenan still survive in tragically small numbers and continue to fight for visibility and Federal recognition).
Mariee grew up surrounded and deeply touched by music—going to bluegrass festivals and listening to her father’s bluegrass band—but held no particular personal musical ambitions. However, she taught herself to play the guitar at 18 while volunteering at a school for Mapuche children in Patagonia, Argentina, and wrote her first songs here while taking refuge from the Patagonia winds indoors. She continued finger picking and writing songs and would make two home-recorded albums purely at the urging of friends. In 2007 she released her first studio album, Faces in the Rocks, on which she collaborated with Native American flutist Gentle Thunder and which achieved a dedicated cult following that would propel her career to this day. She began touring Europe as well as North America and has continued ever since.
Mariee Siou has learned to more consciously embrace her role in the ancient and new tradition of healer-singers who have always helped hold the human social fabric together. Through music she attempts to fill a cultural void left by severed connections to her Polish, Hungarian, and Indigenous North American heritages and to thereby address the broader cultural voids felt by Americans today. She does this “with hopes of enticing the sacred work of grief back into our lives from the exile American society has placed it in”—and this is strongly evident in her 2019 release Grief in Exile, as well as in her forthcoming EP Circle of Signs.
The songs continue to come to Mariee Siou, and her approach as a singer continues to mature. The flowing melodies and quivering vibrato of her voice, as well as the poetry itself, continue to locate themselves and their work with a more solidly grounded precision as to just what that work is. Her most recent songs most deeply reflect this clarity of vision and acceptance of both her role as an artist and the endless need for that role in this changing world. Mariee Siou brings us back to the child and the grandmother in ourselves, in a time in which it has never been more needed — and she intends to keep it up as long as she has a voice.