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Harpist Jess Garland Glows On Debut Single 26

Art&Seek is highlighting new music from North Texas. Tell us what you’ve been listening to on Facebook, Instagram or @artandseek on Twitter. Click above to hear Dallas harpist Jess Garland talk about her debut single with KERA’s Nilufer Arsala. 

The inspiration for Jess Garland’s debut single, “Glow,” came from her harp students.

They told Garland, who has taught music in Dallas for several years, to listen to Bjork’s “Vespertine.” She was immediately drawn to the otherworldly instrumentation in the Icelandic musician’s work, and she got to work on her own track.

“Bjork uses harp a lot, and one of her harpists, Zeena Parkins, is a pioneer in improv music,” Garland says. “You can hear some the influence with the main beat.”

The result is a sweeping, six-minute song that starts softly with the sounds of Garland’s harp and builds into a soaring anthem of self-empowerment.

“It definitely is a story of me coming into my womanhood,” Garland said. “A lot of things aren’t always how they’re supposed to be. It’s kind of somber, but I wanted it to come off as triumphant and victorious.”

Garland says the song was also inspired by an abusive marriage that ended in divorce.

“Sometimes we kind of try to force things or make something work, but some things just don’t,” she said. “It was affecting my life and my health, so I had to get away from that.”

Garland said she plans to release more music soon. She also keeps busy running Swan Strings, her music education non-profit that offers free harp and guitar lessons to kids in Dallas.

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