Chris Pureka

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Chris Pureka
Chris Pureka.JPG
Background information
Born1979 (age 39–40)[1]
Connecticut, U.S.
InstrumentsVoice • guitar
Years active2001-present
LabelsSad Rabbit Records

Chris Pureka is an American acoustic singer-songwriter.[1]

Pureka identifies as genderqueer[2][3] and cultivates an androgynous appearance. Pureka has received positive reviews in the long-running radical feminist publication off our backs[4] and other magazines. Her music does not deal explicitly with LGBTQ or political issues, focusing instead on emotional interactions between individuals.[5] She is a pescetarian.[6]

Early life[edit]

Raised in Connecticut,[1] she began writing songs at the age of eight and began playing the guitar at 16.[1] 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.[1] After graduating, she worked in a microbiology research lab at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, eventually leaving to focus on music full-time.

Musical career[edit]

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.[1] 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.[7] 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[8] 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.[citation needed] Pureka had previously also won the Acoustic competition in April for her song "31 and Falling".[9]

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 her latest album, How I Learned to See in the Dark, independently, on her 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 Alix 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 April 2010, Pureka released her fifth album, How I Learned To See In The Dark, which she co-produced with Merrill Garbus.[10][11][12][13]

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.

In 2016 Pureka released her first new music since 2013 on the album Back in the Ring.[14][15]

Personal life[edit]

After her 2010 album release and a move to New York City, Pureka suffered from writer's block and emotional exhaustion.[16] At the end of 2012, Pureka moved to Portland, Oregon.[14]


  • 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


  1. ^ a b c d e f Swartz, Shauna (June 11, 2007). "7 Out Musicians to Watch — Chris Pureka". Archived from the original on April 4, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2010.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  2. ^ Pureka, Chris (March 5, 2014). "Chris Pureka guest blog: Why I will not conform to gender stereotypes". Female First. Retrieved April 30, 2017. First and foremost, I want to be recognized as a musician, but I also identify as queer and as genderqueer.
  3. ^ Azzopardi, Chris (August 30, 2007). "Goodbye, guitar". PrideSource. Archived from the original on July 27, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  4. ^ Young, Angie (July 1, 2005). "An interview with Chris Pureka: Feminist. Lesbian. Singer. Guitarist extraordinaire". off our backs. Retrieved January 27, 2010.
  5. ^ Mirk, Sarah (April 5, 2016). "Exploring Heartbreak on Chris Pureka's New Album". Bitch Media. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  6. ^ Herman, Aimee (June 6, 2009). "Interview: Chris Pureka". Spectrum Culture. Retrieved May 22, 2016.
  7. ^ Kristen Beam (11 May 2007). "New American Songwriter Tour breezing through town". Sound Check. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  8. ^ "The Winners for July 2007". Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  9. ^ "The Winners for April 2007". Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  10. ^ Cory Albertson (15 April 2010). "Best of What's Next: Chris Pureka". Paste. Retrieved 20 April 2010.
  11. ^
  12. ^ Pareles, Jon (2010-05-18). "Vintage Rock and Midlife Heartaches". The New York Times.
  13. ^ Low, David (June 7, 2010). "Pureka '01 Confronts Her Sorrows in Third Album". News @ Wesleyan. Wesleyan University. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Presley, Katie (February 17, 2016). "Songs We Love: Chris Pureka, 'Back In The Ring'". NPR. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  15. ^ Payne, Chris (March 22, 2016). "D.I.Y. Singer-Songwriter Chris Pureka Premieres Gorgeous Folk Track 'Betting on the Races'". Billboard. Retrieved April 30, 2017.
  16. ^ Walder, Jerad; Keenan, Jennifer (May 19, 2016). "With Latest Album Chris Pureka Refuses To Throw In The Towel". OPB Music. Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved April 30, 2017.

External links[edit]