Dar Williams grew up in the 1970s, where she was encouraged to find her passion at a young age. She picked up a guitar at the age of nine and wrote her first song at 11 with the encouragement of her family.
“I was steeped in that environment of ‘everybody is creative in some way.’ That brought me to take music lessons and keep an ear out for who I was artistically,” she said. Along with writing songs and playing music, Williams also found a creative outlet in playwriting and acting.
She grew up in a household where music was always playing, such as the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Judy Collins, Bob Dylan and the Mamas & the Papas alongside Broadway musical soundtracks and classical music.
“What influenced me was this idea that making music was important,” she said. She found inspiration in Judy Collins in particular out of all of the artists she grew up listening to. “I could almost hear Judy saying that music will help to civilize the world and that there’s a lot of hope for the world in music.”
After college, she found herself in Boston where her career in music began to take off. That passion for writing music has continued throughout her life and she has now released a dozen albums, with her most recent release “I’ll Meet You Here” coming out just last month. The album was originally scheduled to release in 2020 and Williams was prepared to go on tour but plans were delayed due to the pandemic.
When asked about her new album, Williams said, “It never feels different to me. I’m happy to say that it does feel different to critics. I’m really happy when other people gauge any kind of growth. I’m still 19 years old sitting cross-legged in my bed with a guitar.”
She says that her songwriting process involves a bit of magic after coming up with the first piece. “Generally I’ll get a little piece of something in my brain and it’s just like a corner torn from the page- you have to take the clues that you have and look at the words and all of the elements that have come into your head and it’s like a mystery to solve. I love the phenomenon of sitting somewhere and working on a song, surprising ourselves, and figuring out what we want to say and saying it in these infinitely beautiful and interesting ways.”
She also finds inspiration from those around her— particularly in those who attend her retreats. “The people around me writing songs remind me that there’s infinite room for more songs,” she says. “I’ve been really inspired by the people who attend my retreats. I really respect people writing things from their own unique perspective.”
Williams is now a mother of two children who have introduced her to a variety of new artists such as Lizzo and Kendrick Lamar.
She finds herself particularly impressed by Beyoncé— a favorite artist of her daughter who was adopted from Ethiopia.
“We were listening to something called ‘Black Parade’ by Beyonce and I was just in tears,” she said. “I’m a songwriter and I look at what she’s accomplished musically— in her performance, in her writing, in the music and she’s saying something on every level and I’m watching my daughter take in that level of pride and awareness. I can’t think of a better way for my daughter to be receiving a certain kind of education and emotional validation.”
In addition to her new album and tour, Williams is also writing a song-writing guide which takes inspiration from her retreats and will be available for purchase in 2022.
Dar Williams will be performing at the Birchmere in Alexandria on Sunday, December 5. For tickets and more information, go to https://darwilliams.com/concerts/.