Musician and disability rights activist Gaelynn Lea to deliver Carleton convocation

October 16, 2019
By Leander Cohen '22

Gaelynn Lea, a violinist, singer-songwriter and disability rights advocate, will deliver Carleton College’s weekly convocation address on Friday, Oct. 18, from 10:50-11:50 a.m. in the Skinner Memorial Chapel. In her presentation, titled, “The ABC’s of Disability: Raising Awareness, Eliminating Barriers, and Shaping Culture,” she will discuss how her disability has led her to discover two important insights that have helped her live a more empowered life, and how these insights apply to every human being. 

Originally from Duluth, Lea won National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk Contest in 2016, which drew submissions of original songs from more than 6,000 musicians across the country. Since then, she has performed in 43 states and seven countries—in coffee shops, festivals, and renowned venues like Nashville’s Music City Roots, The Kennedy Center, House of Blues Chicago and BBC World News. She has released three albums, which explore the contrasting nature of existence—dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy. Isaac Feldberg of the Boston Globe wrote, “[her] music is imbued with a melancholic poetry so potent it must be heard to believed.”

Lea was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bones Disease, a genetic condition that causes complications in the development of bones and limbs. In addition to performing and recording, she is a disability rights activist, and uses her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and promote positive social change. Specifically, she discusses how disability education and inclusion in the arts can help further the goal of equality. She has appeared on PBS NewsHour, The Moth Radio Hour, and in two widely-viewed TEDx Talks. She is currently working on a memoir about her touring adventures and disability advocacy that she plans to release in 2022.

Lea graduated from Macalester College with a BA in Political Science.

Convocation is sponsored by Carleton College Events. For more information, including disability accommodations, call (507) 222-4308. The Skinner Memorial Chapel is located at First and College Streets in Northfield.

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