Photo: Ursula Vari
Raye Zaragoza is an award-winning singer-songwriter who carries an acoustic guitar and a message. Her quiet yet powerful song “In the River,” written in response to the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota, resonated strongly with listeners and went viral in late 2016, garnering half a million views on the video, national media coverage, and a Global Music Award and Honesty Oscar.
Raye’s debut album, Fight For You (independent, 2017), displays her compassion, dedication to justice and equality for all, and keen eye for the seemingly small daily moments that become our most meaningful memories. About the record, Raye says, “This album is about finding yourself and finding your voice. It’s about maturing and realizing that you can make a difference if you so choose.”
Writing about social issues comes naturally to Raye. “As a woman of color in America, social issues are things you deal with and see every day of your life,” she says. “I write about my experience and oftentimes my existence has been laced with injustice.”
Raye performs her music all over the United States as well as across Europe, where she spent five weeks touring in summer 2017. Her music has been featured on Democracy Now! and on numerous lists of the best modern-day protest songs, including those by Paste Magazine, What Culture, and Overblown.
At SXSW 2018, Raye spoke about her loyal fanbase and maintaining an independent career on a panel entitled “Serving the Sacred Bond” hosted by PledgeMusic. Zaragoza has just finished a national tour, where she was supporting Dispatch and Nahko and Medicine for the People, including dates at Red Rocks and Central Park Summerstage.
Hailing from London, 23-year-old singer-songwriter Freya Ridings self-releases her single “Lost Without You,” a pop ballad about an intense, regretful moment that changed her life.
Her debut single “Blackout” premiered in May and received international support on radio and editorial support on Spotify.
Her second single “Maps,” a spine-tingling cover of the classic Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit, further opened the doors for Freya as it received major support from Spotify and Zane Lowe, who added her to his #Breaking List.
Upon releasing a live album in September, Freya embarked on her first full headline tour in the UK. She then spent the rest of 2017 on the road supporting acts such as Dotan, Tears for Fears, Tash Sultana, and Lewis Capaldi.
2018 will be bright for the up-and-coming singer-songwriter, as Freya has set herself up to be an artist to watch in the new year.
Elise Davis moves between lush alt-country and stripped-down folk on her second album, Cactus. Arriving two years after The Token — the songwriter’s 2016 debut, whose electrified roots-rock sound earned praised from outlets like Rolling Stone Country and The Wall Street Journal — Cactus spins autobiographical stories about a self-sufficient woman in the modern world. Like the desert plant that lends the album its title, Davis takes pride in her own independence, confident that she doesn’t need help from others to grow tall.
Davis’ independent streak began in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she kicked off her career at 12 years old. Now based in Nashville, she has earned acclaim not only for her live show, but also her sharp, articulate songwriting. She collaborates with co-writers like Grammy-winner Maren Morris on Cactus, whose bold, country-leaning sound was produced by Jordan Lehning. The result is Elise Davis’ most honest record to date — an album about what it takes to stand alone, rooted in the hard-won wisdom of a songwriter who’s unafraid to shine a light on her missteps and victories.