Born is Portland songwriter Ara Lee’s just-released 5 song CD. Lee’s roots in the old hymnal spirituals of her youth in Appalachia are obvious and engaging, and her performance energy is entrancing. She growls, whispers, incites and exhorts the very elements with her expressive and fiery vocals and the recordings remain spacious and uncluttered. The songs are evocative and moving and the entire way-too-brief collection is a mighty and deep river of song that can get you through a tough day or a great road trip.

acover-bornRecorded last year at the local 8 Ball Studios and produced by Katherine Claire, Lee and her band bring these songs into world class soundtrack status. Lee plays a tenor ukulele; Katherine Claire contributes violin and voices; Will Gibbs, upright bass; Jeff Evans, guitar and djembe; Zak Borden, mandolin; Chris Hayes on slide guitar; and Rob Stroup plays percussion and sings.

The tunes were inspired after a friend’s passing and Lee’s pregnancy, “It felt like the veil between worlds was thin… my friend Felipe went through one way, my daughter came through another, and these songs came through the same place.”

Go to and order you this batch of soul gumbo to put some jump in your rainy day funk. Sign up for her mailing list and go hear her live while you’re at it.