After founding her influential art-punk band Throwing Muses in Providence, RI, at the age of 14, Kristin Hersh has spent decades confounding expectations and breaking rules, both hers and others.
From life as the reluctant frontperson for the Muses, to the solo career she swore would never happen, through the founding of an ambitious and altruistic nonprofit, to her recent foray into a successful career as an author, Kristin, now a mother of four, didn’t see much of this coming.
Throwing Muses first gained recognition playing on bills with similarly singular artists like the Pixies and Dinosaur Jr. They signed with the highly regarded British indie label 4AD Records the label’s first American signing and then to Warner Bros in the U.S.
Kristin’s solo career spun off in 1994 with the release of Hips and Makers. The CD was widely acclaimed and included “Your Ghost,” a duet with R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe. This was followed by eight more critically acclaimed and influential solo records. Kristin often plays all instruments on her solo releases, including this year’s Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, recorded over a 4 year period, on the island where Kristin grew up. Wyatt at the Coyote Palace is both a book and a 24 song record.
She also heads the power trio, 50FootWave, formed in 2004. All 50FootWave releases are available for download, free of charge and licensed for sharing via Creative Commons. Power + Light is 50FootWave’s most successful release: a blistering thirty minute barrage of uninterrupted music.
In 2007 Kristin cofounded the nonprofit Coalition of Artists and Stake-Holders (CASH Music). ThroughCASH, listeners (“Strange Angels”) have completely funded Kristin’s musical output. CASH has also powered dozens of other artist and label projects and has grown into a widely recognized powerhouse of technical tools that enable commerce, communication and sustainability for artists all open source and free of charge.
In 2013, Throwing Muses returned with their first studio album in 10 years – Purgatory/Paradise – published as a book and CD. The art book is 64pages of lyrics, essays, and photos and includes a 32-track CD that was entirely listener-supported, thanks to Kristin’s Strange Angels.
Kristin began her writing career with the widely acclaimed Rat Girl (titled Paradoxical Undressing outside of the U.S.), published by Penguin. Rolling Stone named Rat Girl one of the top ten best rock memoirs ever written. Kristin has brought the stage show all over the world, playing theaters, museums and festivals. Rat Girl was also adapted as an award-winning play. Her latest book, Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, a personal account of her friendship with the late Vic Chesnutt , was a finalist for the American Booksellers Association book of the year and shortlisted for the Pat Conroy Southern book of the year. NPR said of Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, “Not only one of the best books of the year, but one of the most beautiful rock memoirs ever written.”