Anaïs Mitchell (/ɑːˈneɪs/; born March 26, 1981) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. Mitchell has released five albums, including Hadestown (2010) and Young Man in America (2012). She has been described as the "queen of modern folk music."
Mitchell's father is a novelist and college professor and named her after author Anaïs Nin. She grew up on a farm in Addison County, Vermont, and after traveling to the Middle East, Europe and Latin America as a child, she attended Middlebury College.
Having begun writing her first songs at the age of 17, Mitchell recorded her debut album The Song They Sang When Rome Fell in a single afternoon in 2002.
In 2003 Mitchell won the New Folk award at the Kerrville Folk Festival. Her album Hymns for the Exiled was released on Chicago's Waterbug Records label in 2004. This recording attracted the attention of singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco, who signed her to the Righteous Babe Records label.
In 2006 Mitchell debuted a draft of her "folk opera" Hadestown, which she wrote in collaboration with arranger Michael Chorney and director Ben T. Matchstick. A revised version of Hadestown was staged in 2007. Her third album, The Brightness, was released that same year on Righteous Babe Records. In 2008 Mitchell was nominated for the Contemporary Artist category of the third annual Folk Alliance awards show. In September of that same year, Righteous Babe Records released country e.p., a split vinyl/CD EP Mitchell recorded with fellow musician Rachel Ries.
In April 2009, Mitchell appeared on the song "Miss Independence" on Myra Flynn's album Crooked Measures, and the song "Sadly" on Gregory Douglass's album Battler.
Her album Hadestown was released in spring 2010 to favorable reviews. Her manager, Slim Moon, described it as "the story of Orpheus and Eurydice set in post-apocalyptic Depression-era America. The album includes guest appearances by Ani DiFranco, Greg Brown, Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, Ben Knox Miller of The Low Anthem, and The Haden Triplets (Petra, Rachel, and Tanya Haden).
In early 2012, Mitchell released her album Young Man in America on her Wilderland Records. Mitchell opened the North American leg of Bon Iver's Autumn 2012 tour, which included two sold-out shows at Radio City Music Hall. The album was largely praised by critics as "genre-defining" and her "second consecutive masterpiece."
In late 2012, Mitchell completed recording seven songs from the collection of Child Ballads, compiled by Francis James Child, with fellow musician Jefferson Hamer. The album, produced by Gary Paczosa, was released in February 2013.
Mitchell has received favorable reviews on her musical style, sound and performance. An article in Acoustic Guitar magazine calls Mitchell "fearlessly emotive" and compares her to Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, and Gillian Welch. A review in No Depression magazine describes Mitchell as "girlishly sprite and brimming with innocence" and says that she "brings to mind the hippie-throwback charm of Victoria Williams and "80's pop star Cyndi Lauper". Margaret Reges of Allmusic describes Mitchell as having "the earthiness of Shawn Colvin, the child-like bite of Joanna Newsom, and the urban jumpiness of Ani DiFranco."
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