Rising Appalachia

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Rising Appalachia
Sisters Chloe and Leah Smith of Rising Appalachia
Chloe and Leah Smith of Rising Appalachia in May 2008
Background information
Origin New Orleans, Louisiana
Genres World, folk, soul
Years active 2005 - Present
Labels Independent
Associated acts R.I.S.E. Collective
Website www.risingappalachia.com
Members Leah Smith, Chloe Smith, Imhotep, Biko Casini, Forrest Kelly, Abram Racin, Dee Nalam

Rising Appalachia is an American musical group led by multi-instrumentalist sisters Leah and Chloe Smith.[1] Leah also performs as a solo artist under the name Leah Song. Based between Southern Appalachia and New Orleans, the sisters work with an array of international musicians and the band incorporates everything from simple harmonics with banjos and fiddles, to a wide variety of drums, kalimbas, beatbox, djembe, baliphone, congas, didgeridoo, tablas, spoons and washboard creating a full mix of world, folk and soul music.


In 2005, sisters Leah and Chloe Smith, decided one afternoon to record their first album, Leah and Chloe,[2] in the basement studio of a friend in downtown Atlanta, Georgia. The album was meant as a gift for family and friends but they received so much support and recognition for it that they decided to officially start a band called Rising Appalachia.[3]

Chloe and Leah Smith at FloydFest 2010

In the early days, the sisters busked, in the French Quarter of New Orleans and elsewhere.[3] They began to find their own natural interpretation of Appalachian music which brought together folk, soul, hip-hop, classical, southern gospel and other styles[4] based on their upbringing on traditional Appalachian string band music, as well as on their exposure to urban music like hip-hop and jazz and the influence of roots music of all kinds which they experienced during their worldwide travels.[5] They released their second album, Scale Down in 2007.[6]

On June 29, 2008 the group played their last show under the name Rising Appalachia during Concrete Pandemonium III at the Eyedrum Art Gallery in Atlanta[7] before it was changed to R.I.S.E. (sometimes written RISE). However, in February 2010 they announced they would reclaim the original name of the band, Rising Appalachia, but would incorporate RISE in the name of a supporting project, the Rise Collective.

Rising Appalachia is independent from the mainstream music industry. The sisters managed, produced and marketed the project themselves from the beginning and only later started to build up a small management team. Their first four albums have been self-produced and self funded. For their fifth album, Filthy Dirty South,[8] they raised in 2011 within one month a total of $11,180.00 on the crowd funding web site Kickstarter.[9]

Rising Appalachia has performed at many musical festivals throughout the United States but also in Colombia, Costa Rica, Canada, India, Puerto Rico, Italy,[10] Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Ireland and Scotland.[4][11]

Rise Collective[edit]

The Rise Collective uses both lyrical prowess and diverse artistic collaborations. It consists of a crew of global performers, activists, youth educators, dancers, circus artists, yoginis, acrobatics, fire spinners, poets, aerialists, cultural workers and others who perform at music festivals, rallies and street parties and hold sound education workshops at youth centers, schools, prisons and other locations. The Rise Collective activities include:[12]

Together with the music of Rising Appalachia, the collective is used to support many of the Smith sisters' community-based projects uniting the arts and justice. Having themselves been community activists during their travels, Leah and Chloe Smith want their art to also be a source of activism, as well as of cultural development.[5]


The Slow Music Movement and the Wider Circles Rail Tour (2015)[edit]

Leah Song coined the term "Slow Music Movement" while preparing for a TedX talk.[13] During their Wider Circles[14] Rail Tour, the band travelled by Amtrak train. Song connected this with the "Slow Music Movement", which she described as exploring the question as to how music can be a public service, [15] saying:

We want to have relationships with the farmers and the food of each region and also to have a relationship with different educational initiatives and non-profits. We have a policy that at each show at least two non-profits are welcome, invited — non-profits or educational initiatives, arts justice projects — to the show to set up tables and let the audiences know, as well as ourselves, what’s going on locally.[16]

The Permaculture Action Network and the Fertile Grounds Tour (2016)[edit]

The band chose the name "Fertile Grounds" for their 2016 tour to celebrate their new partnership with the Permaculture Action Network. In an interview, Chloe Smith stated that the band would be "hosting a series of Permaculture Action Days in association with a number of our performance dates with the goal of helping to connect our audiences with tangible on-the-ground action and education".[17]

Artistic collective members and instruments[edit]

Sisters Chloe and Leah Smith, 2010 in New Orleans
  • Leah Song - vocals, poetics, banjo, fiddle, kalimba, bodhrán, and tinky percussive things
  • Chloe Smith - vocals, fiddle, banjo, washboard, kalimba, and percussion
  • Biko Casini - djembe, congas, and percussion
  • David Brown - guitar, double bass, and banjo
Guest musicians and past members[citation needed]
  • Abram Racin - double bass
  • Forrest Kelly - beatboxing, hand percussion, and fire spinning.
  • Imhotep - traditional New Orleans bass drum, djembe, m'bala, and West African percussion
  • Maurice Turner- trumpet
  • Liza Garza- vocals and poetry
  • Theresa Davis-poetry
  • Jan Smith - fiddle and voice
  • Leyla McCalla -cello
  • Aurora Nealand- saxophone

Awards and recognitions[edit]


Rising Appalachia at The Ogden, New Orleans on November 11, 2011


  • Rising Appalachia (2006). Leah and Chloe (CD). CD Baby/Rising Appalachia. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2007). Scale Down (CD). CD Baby/Unwound. 
  • R.I.S.E. (Rising Appalachia) (2008). Evolutions in Sound: Live (CD). CD Baby/R.I.S.E. (Rising Appalachia). 
  • Rising Appalachia (2010). The Sails of Self (CD). CD Baby/Rising Appalachia. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2012). Filthy Dirty South (CD). CD Baby/Rising Appalachia. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2015). Wider Circles (CD). Rising Appalachia. [20]

Music videos[edit]

  • Rising Appalachia (2010a). Scale Down (video). Scott McKibben Photography and Captain Crazy Productions. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2010b). Zavidi Me Lalino (video). Captain Crazy TV. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2011a). Nobody's Fault But Mine (video). With Garrett Turner. W.B. Yeats Foundation. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2011b). Sunu (video). Directed by Chad Hess. Chad Hess Production. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2011c). Sunu #2 (video). Rising Appalachia. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2011d). Swoon (video). Directed by Chad Hess. Chad Hess Production. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2012a). Across the Blue Ridge Mountains (video). Rising Appalachia. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2012b). Don't Miss Your Water (video). Rising Appalachia. Retrieved 2015-05-10. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2013a). Closer to the Edge (video). Directed by Chad Hess. Chad Hess Production. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2013b). Filthy Dirty South (video). Scott McKibben Photography. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2014a). Fly Around My Pretty Lil' Miss (video). Image Digital Media. Retrieved 2015-05-14. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2015a). Medicine (video). Jeremy Jensen Media. Retrieved 2015-05-14. 
  • Rising Appalachia (2015b). Wider Circles Live Cut on the Train (video). Rising Appalachia. Retrieved 2015-05-11. 


  • Rising Appalachia (2012c). Live at Echo Mountain (DVD). CD Baby. 

Digital albums[edit]

  • Rising Appalachia; The Human Experience (June 17, 2013c). Soul Visions. Bandcamp. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 
  • Rising Appalachia (October 6, 2014b). "The Sails of Self". Bandcamp. Retrieved 2015-05-08. 

Live broadcasts[edit]

Interviews and talks[edit]


  • Rising Appalachia; The Human Experience (2013d). "Sunu". The Bloom Series Vol 1: Fundamental Frequencies. Muti Music. 

See also[edit]



Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]