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Brooke Fraser

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New Zealand

Held every year on verdant polo grounds in Indio, California, the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is many things to many people: A way to hear the best alternative music, a giant lawn party of hipsters wearing hemp sunhats, or the one place you can gawk at members of super-bands as they ride around on golf carts. For Brooke Fraser, Coachella 2009 was the event that re-awakened her desire to make music. It was April and the New Zealand-born singer and songwriter was burnt out after completing a three-year tour supporting her second album, 2006’s Albertine, which debuted at No. 1 in New Zealand, reached five times platinum, and remained in the Top 20 for nearly a year. “I felt so exhausted, I could barely get out of bed,” Fraser says, “let alone think about writing songs for a third album.”

As the sun went down over Indio on the Saturday night of Coachella 2009, Fraser found herself watching one of her favorite bands, Fleet Foxes. “Robin Pecknold began to sing and the purity of his voice seemed to melt away every memory of trauma and disillusionment,” she recalls. “Then the other voices joined his and it all felt so human and honest; I and everyone around me was enthralled. We were all being spoken to, and we were all listening. It was a moment where I remembered the power of music as a language, a connector. I remembered that I’ve been given the gift of speaking a particular dialect of this language and realised I didn’t have the option of being resigned to silence and I didn’t want it.”

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