"She's a 23-year-old cross between Leonard Cohen and Joan of Arc, singing
deeply romantic, angularly haunted, utterly thrilling songs. If you don't get
it the first time, listen again. She's the real thing." – Charlie Hunter
Her first major effort as a musician was a full-length, four-track album entitled "vast
chest," of which ten copies were made. Rose devoted so much time to the
project, completed as part of an off-campus college arts program, that her
professors gave her A's in every class, despite her virtual neglect of other
They decided that she had learned how to be an artist. She took their cue and
left college to immerse herself in the Chicago open-mic music scene.
At age 20, she was working as a bookstore clerk and attending 3 open mics
a week. Her voice cracked like an egg in an incubator, even though (or maybe
because) there was virtually no one there to notice. She stayed loyal to the
open mic experience for two years before embarking on her first tour, which
took her to the Northeast in the winter of 1997.
Within 7 months, she would be invited to play the Newport Folk Festival, winning
a slot in the 1998 summer touring Lilith Fair, opening for Shawn Colvin, and
receiving a surprise phone call from the Indigo Girls' Amy Ray, who only wanted
to know if there was anything she could do to help Rose, who's 1997 demo tape
had captivated her. "No one can touch her," Amy would later say, "Rose
exists on a level all her own...botanical love songs...dark histories...as
holy as a mystic, as profane as your perverted fantasies."
In August of 1998 Rose independently released her debut album, Dragersville,
a self-produced collection of eleven original songs. Since it's release, she
has been touring almost incessantly, making a stop at the ASCAP Showcase during
this year's Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. The Illinois Entertainer
called 1999 "the year of this woman" in a recent article about her,
and with her next album, Anybody, slated for a late summer release on Atlanta's
Daemon Records, it very well might be.
Rose Polenzani's songs cross boundaries of time, space and culture, cutting
to the heart of unquenchable human passions. Her dazzling creative gifts — a
remarkable voice, mature compositional skills and magnetic stage presence — are
matched by a quiet humility and clarity of purpose.