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Helen Rose

For weary citizens of a world, Rugged Elegance is a salve for the soul. Helen Rose’s honey-smooth voice washes away the dust of our strange days and transports us somewhere sweeter — from the sun-warmed canyons of California to the color-streaked levee sunsets of New Orleans. 

Helen Rose was born in Los Angeles but grew up bicoastal in a family deeply rooted in the arts — her mother a costume designer and her father a musician, actor and carpenter. She spent her youth roaming the fields of the eastern shore of Maryland and herding cattle in central California. As a young girl, she began to sing with her father's bluegrass band and was hooked, eventually adding the saxophone and guitar to her musical arsenal. Helen met Jonah Tolchin in High School, a fellow young blues enthusiast who quickly became her friend and would go on to be the producer of Rugged Elegance. 

After studying urban and environmental policy in college, Helen felt a cosmic pull back to the arts. She has since toured across the US and UK/EU, working alongside legendary musicians such as James Gadson, Benmont Tench, Jeff Peters, Russ Kunkel, and Marvin Etzioni. Her previous release Trouble Holding Back was a hit with critics and fans alike, receiving rave reviews from publications such as Mojo and Living Blues magazine. Helen has also made a name for herself as a composer, winning awards for her captivating original scores for film and TV. Though she loves writing music for movies, her true passion lies in songwriting, live performance, and making records.

Rugged Elegance is a work long destined by the stars, as Helen knew that Jonah was the one who knew her best, and could help guide her in weaving the tapestry of song she envisioned. Every song is a distinct portrait of someone or someplace beloved, but they all emanate from a singular place of honesty, reflection and a desire to embrace one another in times of difficulty. Rugged Elegance channels the icons who have defined Helen’s old-time roots — Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Bonnie Raitt and countless others — but listen deeply and you’ll find an artist who has found her voice at a moment when we need to hear it most. These are not just tracks on an album to Helen. They are sacred; a testimony to the love she has for her family and for the world. We are lucky to get to share in the vulnerability of this gift.

Rugged Elegance was recorded at Dead Pop Studios in Providence, Rhode Island. Produced by Jonah Tolchin, who is also a co-writer, Kevin Clifford shines on drums and the multi-talented Nic Coolidge holds it down on bass and engineering. The song DEMONS features a duet with Tyler-James Kelly. Many of the songs were recorded live, straight through with original vocal takes. Featured artists include Greg Leisz (Robert Plant & Allison Krauss) on pedal steel & lap steel, Marley Munroe (Lady Blackbird) and Valerie Pinkston (Diana Ross) on background vocals and Carey Frank (Tedeschi Trucks) on piano. These artists were recorded at Carriage House Studios with Sheldon Gomberg (Ben Harper, Rickie Lee Jones, Jackson Brown).

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