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About Neyla Pekarek
A singer and songwriter of adult-alternative pop with a classic vocal-era undertone, Neyla Pekarek played cello and sang in the chart-topping folk-rock/Americana group the Lumineers before going solo. Showcasing a warm, bright voice well-suited to her background in musical theater, she made her debut with the concept album Rattlesnake in 2019.
A native of Aurora, Colorado, just outside of Denver, Pekarek began playing the cello at the age of nine, eventually adding piano and mandolin to her repertoire. As a student at Overland High School, a choir teacher encouraged her to sing, and she went on to win the role of Cosette in a school production of Les Misérables.
In 2009, after earning a degree in music education from the University of Northern Colorado, Pekarek responded to an ad from a Denver-based band seeking a cellist. She soon accepted an offer to round out the founding lineup of Wesley Schultz (vocals, guitar) and Jeremiah Fraites (drums, percussion) in the Lumineers. The success of their self-titled 2011 EP earned them a management deal, and the trio soon decamped to Seattle to record their debut album with producer Ryan Hadlock. Prior to the album's release, the catchy "Ho Hey" single began picking up steam in influential radio markets, and by the time Dualtone released the Lumineers' eponymous LP in April 2012, they'd amassed considerable buzz. Buoyed by "Ho Hey" and the subsequent single "Stubborn Love" (a song later revealed to be on President Obama's iPod playlist), the album eventually peaked at number two on the Billboard Top 200 and earned them two Grammy nominations. A whirlwind of touring occupied the next two years as the Lumineers' profile continued to rise. By 2016, they'd completed work on their follow-up album, Cleopatra, which was released in April of that year. It reached number one in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. Following their own world tour, the Lumineers were asked by U2 to join the North American leg of their Joshua Tree 30th-anniversary tour.
During her time on the road, Pekarek began working on her first solo material. Inspired by the life of 20th-century Colorado personality "Rattlesnake Kate" Slaughterback, the resulting concept album, Rattlesnake, was released on S-Curve in early 2019. In the meantime, Pekarek gave notice to the Lumineers and was commissioned by the Denver Center for the Performing Arts to help develop a stage musical derived from her album. ~ Marcy Donelson & Timothy Monger
- Sep 4, 1986