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Pureka identifies as genderqueer and cultivates an androgynous appearance. Pureka has received positive reviews in the long-running radical feminist publication off our backs and other magazines. Her music does not deal explicitly with LGBTQ issues, focusing instead on emotional interactions between individuals. She is a pescetarian.
Raised in Connecticut, she began writing songs at the age of eight and began playing the guitar at 16. She soon became a frequent performer at local coffee houses and open mics. As a young performer, she opened shows for such artists as Erin McKeown and Pamela Means while completing a degree in biology at Wesleyan University. After graduating, she worked in a microbiology research lab at Smith College in Northampton, eventually leaving to focus on music full-time.
In June 2001, she recorded a self-titled seven-song EP in preparation for a three-month nationwide tour with lesbian folk poet Alix Olson. The EP, which was home-recorded in two weeks and featured Pureka playing back-up accompaniment on the mandolin and bass, was later mastered and reprinted for the 2005 summer tour.
In 2004, Pureka released Driving North, her first full-length album, earning rave reviews from fans and fellow artists alike. In 2006, she released Dryland, and toured the US a second time as a headlining act. The album received rave reviews and was featured on the Paste Magazine Sampler in February 2007.
In May 2007, Pureka was a member of the month-long New American Songwriter Tour in New York City, Philadelphia, and Massachusetts. The tour also featured Krystle Warren, Jesse Harris, and Ryan Scott. In August, she played at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival.
In July 2007, Pureka's song, "Swann Song" won 1st Place in the Acoustic competition on the independent music site OurStage.com. Because of her excellent performance there, she won a spot to perform at the Virgin Music Festival in Baltimore, Maryland, and performed there on August 5. Pureka had previously also won the Acoustic competition in April for her song "31 and Falling".
In October 2007, she was nominated for 2007's Outstanding Folk Act by the Boston Music Awards. She was also awarded an ASCAPLUS award in the summer of 2007.
Pureka has sold over 7000 copies of their latest album, How I Learned to See in the Dark, independently, on their own label, Sad Rabbit Music. She has gained popularity by performing with artists such as Dar Williams, The Cowboy Junkies, Peter Mulvey, Ani Difranco, Martin Sexton, Jeffrey Foucault, Kris Delmhorst, Melissa Ferrick, Catie Curtis, and Girlyman.
Pureka is the founder of the label Sad Rabbit Music. She has been compared to artists like early Bruce Springsteen, Ryan Adams, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch, and Mary Gauthier. She covered Welch's song "Everything Is Free" on Dryland and has expressed admiration for her music as well as that of Griffin. Pureka cites influences from Peter Mulvey and Pamela Means, as well as Ani DiFranco, but says that her own music differs greatly from DiFranco's often-outspoken political messages. She has lent vocals and guitar playing to several tracks by artists like Olson and Arjuna Greist; a notable track is "Checking My Pulse" with Olson, which went on to become a relative hit for Olson.
On January 20, 2009, Pureka released a fourth album, an EP entitled Chimera. The EP has seven tracks; one new, original song (with a prelude as the first track), a reworked studio version of a song off of their 2001 EP, three live tracks, and a cover of Bob Dylan and Ketch Secor's Wagon Wheel. The hard copy of Chimera is complete with written commentary from Pureka on each track.
In 2012 Pureka released a live album recorded at the Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC on January 19, 2011. It was recorded by Marsellus Fariss and mastered by Mark Alan Miller. Other musicians on the recording are: Andrea Alseri, Sebastian Renfield, Julia Read and Jax Keating.
- 2001 - Chris Pureka EP
- 2004 - Driving North
- 2006 - Dryland
- 2009 - Chimera (EP)
- 2010 - How I Learned To See In The Dark
- 2012 - Chris Pureka Live at the Grey Eagle 1.19.11
- 2013 - Chimera II (EP)
- 2016 - Back in the Ring
- Swartz, Shauna (June 11, 2007). "7 Out Musicians to Watch — Chris Pureka". AfterEllen.com. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Azzopardi, Chris (August 30, 2007). "Goodbye, guitar". PrideSource. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Young, Angie (July 1, 2005). "An interview with Chris Pureka: Feminist. Lesbian. Singer. Guitarist extraordinaire". off our backs. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
- Herman, Aimee (June 6, 2009). "Interview: Chris Pureka". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
- Kristen Beam (11 May 2007). "New American Songwriter Tour breezing through town". Sound Check. masslive.com. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- "The Winners for July 2007". OurStage.com. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
- "The Winners for April 2007". OurStage.com. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
- Cory Albertson (15 April 2010). "Best of What's Next: Chris Pureka". Paste. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
- Pareles, Jon (2010-05-18). "Vintage Rock and Midlife Heartaches". The New York Times.