Gaelynn Lea has been bewitching fans with her original music and experimental take on traditional fiddle music for years. She is a classically trained violinist and songwriter who won NPR Music's 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, launching her into a life on the road touring around the country. She's used her newfound platform to not only play music, but to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change.
What does success mean to you?
Obviously no one is perfect, so sometimes I compare myself to others and start to wonder. But if I really think about it from the heart, success means living in a way that is enriching to you and to other people. Connecting to your passions and authentically living out your values on a daily basis is, to me, the true definition of success.
Is there a significant decision you made or experience you've had that has forever shaped your life?
There are several moments that have been turning points for me. Deciding I wanted to play the violin and auditioning for orchestra in 5th grade had far-reaching consequences that I never would have imagined at the time. Many years later, I decided to leave the insurance industry to teach fiddle lessons full-time, and this was another real turning point for me personally, as I made a commitment to following my true passion. I realized that I'd rather face the insecurity of self-employment than spend life in a job that wasn't really in alignment with my true goals or values. Auditioning for NPR's Tiny Desk Contest in 2016 was another turning point - winning that contest changed the course of my life drastically, as I don't think my husband, Paul, and I would have taken such an extreme course of action (selling the house, quitting our jobs, and hitting the road) without that as the catalyst.
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