On November 8, 2019, singer and rapper Dessa and the GRAMMY-winning Minnesota Orchestra will release Sound the Bells: Recorded Live at Orchestra Hall, a live album featuring 17 of Dessa’s strongest songs, ambitiously rearranged by musician and composer Andy Thompson, and recorded live across two sold-out shows performed in March of 2019.

The concerts were held in downtown Minneapolis’ Orchestra Hall, a striking venue with an unmistakable acoustic design. (The back wall of the hall looks like an avalanche of tumbling dice—a stunning backdrop featured on the album cover, revealed today.)

The venue was fitted with an array of suspended microphones to capture the performances, and Sarah Hicks, Principal Conductor of Live at Orchestra Hall, conducted the program. The album was executive produced by Lazerbeak and Minnesota Orchestra Director of Live at Orchestra Hall programming, Grant Meachum, and will be released via independent hip-hop label Doomtree Records.

A friendship between an indie hip-hop artist and a world-class symphony orchestra might seem unlikely. But the new record is the product of a long partnership—and the innovative character of both parties. Dessa’s music often defies genre: she’s recorded aggressive rap records with the Doomtree crew; released melancholic ballads and infectious pop songs as a solo artist; co-written for a 100-voice choir with composer Jocelyn Hagen; and contributed to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s The Hamilton Mixtape. 

The Minnesota Orchestra has recorded more than 450 works in a recording history that dates back more than ninety years (winning the 2014 GRAMMY award for Best Orchestral Performance). Most recently, the Orchestra has recorded acclaimed complete cycles of symphonies by Sibelius, Beethoven and, now in progress, Mahler, with its Music Director Osmo Vänskä. The ensemble has a reputation for creative programming, broad-based education and engagement work, and innovative touring.

Over the past few years, Dessa and the Orchestra have sold out Orchestra Hall six times over (at just under 2,000 attendees each go); Dessa has performed at black-tie orchestral special events, and even accompanied the Orchestra on its history-making tour through South Africa as a social media correspondent for Minnesota Public Radio’s classical station.

2019 has been a big year for Dessa: to follow-up on the release of her critically acclaimed, Billboard-charting studio album, Chime, she released a new 7” record (featuring singles “Grade School Games” and “Good for You”); contributed her first piece in National Geographic Traveler; and published new fiction in the Mississippi Review. 

The paperback version of her book, My Own Devices: True Stories from the Road on Music, Science, and Senseless Love, which made NPR’s Best Books List in 2018 (Dutton, Penguin Random House), is due to hit U.S. bookstores on August 27.

She’s debuting a new flavor collaboration with Izzy’s Ice Cream called Dessa’s Night Drive (inspired by espressos on the road) and on November 7, the night before the big album release, she’ll make her European orchestral debut with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, where a second show has been added after the first sold out in a day.

Dessa is on the road now, making a series of literary readings and rounding out a season of club dates with her live band. Stay tuned for album pre-order information and the announcement of a new tour in support of Sound the Bells: Recorded Live at Orchestra Hall.

For times, tickets, and information, visit dessawander.com/events.