Roia Rafieyan has the vocal stylings of a Carole King or a Joni Mitchell and the quirky songwriting style of a Christine Lavin or a Dar Williams. A lot of Roia's music springs from her work as a music therapist. She is a passionate advocate for people who are nonspeaking. That passion is reflected in her lyrics and point of view as a songwriter. When she sees a wrong being done, she will eventually put it to music and play a G9 chord over it.
And let us not overlook the power of her voice. It is calming as only a woman's voice can be. Delicately layered with an easy gentleness, but yet clearly rooted personal strength. Full of emotion and a true understanding of what suffering can be. She and her family came to the United States from their home in Iran during her early teens, leaving the political turmoil and ensuing war with Iraq. She comes with a unique point of view, seeing America with both foreign and familiar eyes. This also comes through in her music.
Now, the music itself: it is deceptively simple. She will drift effortlessly from the guitar to the keyboard. Often, she will play songs on the piano that were originally written on the guitar without a thought. She is equally at home with a sparse accompaniment as she is with a wall of notes, her voice always floating above it all. You can detect the jazzy influence in her chord progressions, the folky flavor of her rhythms, and the classic rock influence all merged together into a new genre. Call it Folk Emo? Once you hear her, you just know: IT'S ROIA. Her music is her gift to share with all of us.
(Thanks to Andrew Dunn for this kind description. And thanks to Ambi Peterson Spadoni for the photographs.]