Anna Dagmar was three albums into a critically acclaimed songwriting career weaving together colorful jazz harmonies, inviting pop melodies and refined classical piano textures. Then she stepped into the folk community, where she learned how to lift a personal story to a universal truth. This summer, the NYC-based pianist, arranger and singer-songwriter releases a new album, matched in music and narrative, Satellite.
Dagmar garnered widespread recognition for her previous album, Let The Waves Come In Threes (2009). It charted #6 on the National Roots Music Report with spins on over 100 stations nationwide. DJ George Graham of WVIA called it, “one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year.” Recently, Dagmar was chosen as a Kerrville New Folk Finalist and Gold Prize Winner of the Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest for the haunting Satellite track, “We Were Children.” She has been favorably compared to Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Judy Collins, and Regina Spector, and cites inspirations including George Gershwin, Anais Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens and Jonatha Brooke.
Dagmar grew up a pianist steeped in classical repertoire but also drawn to the excitement of jazz improvisation. She earned a degree in jazz piano performance and music education from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York. Recently, however, one of her most stirring lessons came while frequenting the local folk scene. The vigor and purity of folk music and its connection to the human story, was a revelation that changed her lyric approach on Satellite. “For these songwriters it’s more about lyrics than music. For me, it has been more about the music. I could really grab onto their words because they were so tangible. My past lyrics were poetic, and the music painted the text, but you couldn’t easily take hold of the stories,” Dagmar reveals. Through immersing herself in the folk scene she realized, “When you’re open and direct, the audience can enjoy the songs more because you’re inviting them in.”
The album’s most vulnerable moment is the single, “Satellite,” which will have an innovative video directed by Mitch Jacobson (Paul McCartney, Aerosmith). It was choreographed by Annie Sailer (Eric Hawkins), debuting on Dagmar’s Channel and YouTube’s Official “Dance On” Channel. Inspired by her father’s mathematical mind and her mother’s spirituality, the song joins together the Story of Creation with The Big Bang, and asks the question, “Are we the sum of all we’ve chosen to believe? Can I be somewhere in between?” Dagmar scored an elegantly elegiac string quartet intro that appropriately evokes this grappling introspection. This initial heady mood is then transformed by a winsome hook as the band joins in and uplifts the track with a warm, nuanced groove. Dagmar sings with grace and purity; she elongates notes with an ease and humility that shows her range without “showcasing” it. Her crystalline piano playing is similarly understated. She works with rich and expansive chords interspersed with sensitive melodic flourishes.
Within “Satellite,” Dagmar contrasts her parents. Of her father she sings: “I was raised by a man of reason/ In the elegance of truth/ Who plays with math like music/ And yearns for proof.” Of her mother she sings: “His heart belongs to a woman/ As selfless as the air/A helper and a holder/ With one sweet hour of prayer/ She kneels below the window/ And speaks to God above/ Whose quieting forgiveness/ Feels like a mother’s love.” As the track edges along, it becomes emotionally pent up, but the dynamic, waves-crashing turbulence in the reprise is satisfyingly cathartic. You get the feeling by the end of song she’s found the bridge between her parents’ complimentary contrasting dispositions.
“We Are Children,” like “Can We Be Old Friends,” from her previous CD, shows Dagmar’s compassion for the individual who suffers. Here one child and his regrets stand for all the children cruelly thrust into adult wars. Rounding out the mood on the album is her imaginative arrangement of the enduring classic, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” and the whimsical gypsy jazz original, “Down The Road.” “That song is about a vagabond – a tramp, like Charlie Chaplin – just a silhouette walking down the road. It’s those people you love even when you know you have to let them go,” Dagmar says. The tune has a cinematic quality that evokes the ill-fated romance of the lyrics with tender humor.
There is an openness flowing through Satellite, making it accessible lyrically, emotionally, and musically. Dagmar’s boldly intimate writing and her comfort with both producer Ben Wittman (Lucy Kaplansky, Paula Cole, Patty Larkin) and her A-list studio band, imbues Satellite with poise and a sense of liberating adventurousness. “On this album, the songs are real and vulnerable,” Dagmar says reflectively, “I’m revealing myself not just as a musician, but as a person.”
Anna Dagmar, piano and voice - often performs solo or in small configurations
Ben Wittman (Lucy Kaplansky/Patty Larkin/Jonatha Brooke), drums
Kaveh Rastegar (Dittybops/Keaton Simons), bass/LA
Richard Hammond (East Village Opera), bass/NYC
Marc Shulman (Suzanne Vega), guitar
Theo Bleckmann (Meredith Monk), harmony vocals
Martha Colby (October Project), cello
Mike McGinnis (Lonnie Plaxico), woodwinds
Beth Meyers (Clare and the Reasons), viola
Caleb Burhans (Alarm Will Sound), violin
2001 One More Time in the Air
2004 Solo Songs
2005 Martha Colby, Across Two Rivers
2006 Nadine Goellner LIVE
2008 Anna Dagmar Songbook (printed sheet music)
2009 Let the Waves Come in Threes
2009 #1 Airplay on WVIA
2012 Rocky Mountain Song Contest Finalist
2012 Kerrville New Folk Finalist
2011 Gold Prize Mid-Atlantic Song Contest 2011
5 Time Winner 2011 Mid-Atlantic Songwriting Contest
National Radio Play on over 100 stations
Top 20 Positions in Roots Music Report "Folk" for 6 Consecutive Weeks, Peaking at #6
2009 Selected for NERFA Tri-Centric Showcase
2012 Selected for NERFA Quadcentric Showcase
Featured on WFUV "On Your Radar Series"
Top Album of 2009 "Graham Awards" WVIA
ASCAP Plus Award and selected for Expo Listening Panel
A-List Artist Feature on High Plains Public Radio in TX
Shared stage with Lucy Kaplansky, The Lascivious Biddies, Nadine Goellner, Natalia Zukerman, Ellis Paul and others.
We Were Children acoustic
Down the Road master
Let the Waves Come in Threes
Can't Help Falling In Love
Evokes the best of Judy Collins or the musical theater
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"In a world over-populated with guitar-playing folksingers, Dagmar is pursuing a different path – wr..."In a world over-populated with guitar-playing folksingers, Dagmar is pursuing a different path – writing piano-based songs that evoke the best of Judy Collins or the musical theater.”
Gorgeous voice, lyrical piano stylings and lovely intelligent songs
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"Anna Dagmar's new album showcases her gorgeous voice, lyrical piano stylings and lovely, intelligen..."Anna Dagmar's new album showcases her gorgeous voice, lyrical piano stylings and lovely, intelligent songs."
Solid jazz-pop song writing, bright piano playing
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"...solid jazz-pop song writing, bright piano playing, and earnest, honest vocals. The second track,..."...solid jazz-pop song writing, bright piano playing, and earnest, honest vocals. The second track, "She's Got It in Her Soul," recounts the tale of a shy, possibly ill-fated meeting in a cafe, while the moodier, "More Beautiful Than the Sun" sings a sunnier song of young love. Reminiscent of a more serious Blossom Dearie, or a less flighty Rickie Lee Jones, Dagmar lays out her soul on every song....fans of heartfelt acoustic music will find much individuality in Dagmar's releases."
A Boatload of Musical Talent
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"Musically refreshing. Like a breath of fresh air! Anna Dagmar showers us with a boatload of musical..."Musically refreshing. Like a breath of fresh air! Anna Dagmar showers us with a boatload of musical talent. Obvious in her songwriting skills, this talent is overflowing with love and compassion. Anna brings us to the brink of musical bliss while she displays everything she has experienced in musical form. Jazz influence, pop appeal and a true passion for her music are demonstrated like an open book. This
lady doesn't hold back anything from us. A pleasure to hear and most likely even more pleasing to see, "Can We Be Old Friends" strikes an arrow directly through the heart
with the depths of feeling she unleashes to us!!! Anna Dagmar is what real music is."
Beautiful voice...elegant and distinctive
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"The disc, released in March, reveals Dagmar's beautiful voice wrapping itself around her solid song..."The disc, released in March, reveals Dagmar's beautiful voice wrapping itself around her solid song writing and supported by an elegant and distinctive piano soundtrack."
Easy listen to a wide market
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I hear hundreds of CDs and I have booked hundreds of showcases as the Director of the NYC Songwriter...I hear hundreds of CDs and I have booked hundreds of showcases as the Director of the NYC Songwriter's Circle. Once in a while, a CD really sticks out in its originality, musicality, and artistry. Anna's CD is a rare find. 'I Can't Let Go,' especially, is a catchy tune that you walk away humming (for days). She is a sophisticated player [with] a real pop sensibility which makes it an easy listen to a wide market. I highly recommend this new artist.
Piano spills out over the band in fantastic hooky cascading lines and I'm swept in
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"From the opening moments of 'Let the Waves Come in Threes' her piano spills out over the band in th..."From the opening moments of 'Let the Waves Come in Threes' her piano spills out over the band in these fantastic hooky cascading lines and I am swept in. It's a beautiful ride."
Sample Set List:
Smile For Free
She's Got It in Her Soul
More Beautiful Than the Sun
I Can't Let Go
Shadow of a Doubt
Keep on Moving
Typical set: 45 minutes