Local Current Blog

In TEDx Talk, Gaelynn Lea addresses America’s beauty culture

Gaelynn Lea in Duluth, 2016 (Jay Gabler/MPR)

Using her violin, voice, and live looping pedals, singer-songwriter Gaelynn Lea is able to fill a room with undeniable emotion. A longtime standby of the Duluth music scene who gained national recognition when she won last year’s NPR Tiny Desk Contest, she often speaks about living with a disability, overcoming hardship, and the true joy of music.

Last October, Lea visited Yale University to deliver a TEDx Talk titled “Sexuality and Disability: Forging Identity in a World that Leaves You Out.” In the talk, Lea addressed growing up in America’s exclusionary “beauty culture” with a physical disability (brittle bone disease), and how she found empowerment by focusing on making a difference in the world.

Watch a video of Lea’s talk, recently posted to YouTube, below.

Nicholas Trahan is a student at McNally Smith College of Music. He’s an intern at Rhymesayers Entertainment and an administrative assistant for Toki Wright’s Soul Tools Entertainment.