Meet The Gingersnaps
The Gingersnaps is the musical collaboration of five of Central North Carolina’s finest up-and-coming singers, songwriters, and multi-instrumentalists: Billie Feather, Anna Rose Beck, Jodi Hildebran, Palmyra Romeo, and Kate Saylor. Performing a sweet-and-salty mix of old-time folk standards, country classics, smooth Americana favorites, and heart-wrenching original songs, The Gingersnaps’ vocal harmonies and classic instrumentation including upright bass, fiddle, guitar and harmonica, are sure to win your heart at first listen.
The Austin, Texas born-and-raised Anna Rose Beck (vocals, guitar, fiddle) found that music was her true calling shortly after graduating from Duke University with a degree in biomedical engineering in 2010. Inspired by the lyrical sensibilities of Bob Dylan and the vocal stylings of Eva Cassidy, she began performing in local clubs and music venues shortly after graduation, soon garnering a reputation for her evocative lyrics, hushy middle-soprano intensity, and finger-picked guitar lines. Beck carries the weightiness of her songwriting with a voice that has been described as “both bold and understated, moving and hypnotic, brimming with passion but never overpowering,” inviting comparisons to Dar Williams and Natalie Merchant. She collaborated with Asheville-based producer Andrew Schatzberg to record and release two albums of original songwriting, The Weathermaker (2011) and Glass House (2014). Beck is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Jazz Studies/Vocal Performance at North Carolina Central University.
Billie Feather (guitar, upright bass, vocals) was raised in North Carolina, where she found herself surrounded by the rich musical landscape that flourishes in the Tarheel State - from the old traditional mountain music of the Appalachians to the Piedmont's rich blues and jazz traditions. For her senior year in high school, she was accepted into the prestigious music conservatory at The University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Classical Guitar Performance, and remained there for her college studies. Feather has been a guest classical guitarist in The Carolina Wind Symphony, and has been able to perform all over North Carolina as both a solo artist and in classical guitar ensembles. After graduating in 2006, she expanded her musical studies by learning the double bass, electric bass, banjo, and mandolin. Feather has played professionally with several well-known bands in North Carolina. Most notably, she could be found with Bo-Stevens and The Darnell Woodies, with which she toured throughout the US and Europe. She has shared the stage with country legend George Jones, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Dexter Romweber, The Backsliders, and many other noteworthy acts. Feather graduated from North Carolina Central University in 2017 with a second bachelor’s degree in Jazz Guitar. It was at Central that she connected with Anna Rose Beck over their shared (and rare, in the jazz world) love of folk music.
Kate Saylor (fiddle, vocals) starting playing the violin at age 5, and she was learning fiddle tunes by the age of 8. She learned Texas contest style and Western Swing tunes growing up in CA, then branched out to Bluegrass, Irish and Scottish traditional music in college. She spent time at fiddle camps learning from and jamming with fiddle greats including Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky and Natalie MacMaster. Kate played in Newgrass, Bluegrass and folk bands in Portland, OR and Washington, DC: The Rare Birds, The Nathaniel Talbot Trio, The Delafield String Band, Notes from the Underground, and the Clara Barton Sessions. Kate also co-founded the Triangle-based Newgrass trio Fabius Page, and she often sits in with the Counter Clockwise Stringband and other local Bluegrass bands. She met bassist Palmyra Romeo soon after moving to NC in 2016, and they often jam or play shows together. In summer 2018, Kate and Palmyra joined the Gingersnaps on fiddle and bass respectively.
Jodi Hildebran (vocals, guitar, harmonica) is a singer/songwriter with an affinity for combining indie folk and pop, with a touch of country sass and sometimes, a little bluegrass. She grew up in a small town in the foothills of North Carolina called Hildebran (if you ask her, she will say her family named the town, but there's a good chance she just made that up). She started her music career at the age of 5 years old, singing songs from Disney's "The Little Mermaid" at her mom's hair salon to a captive audience of patrons (captive, of course, because many of them could not escape even if they wanted to). Although she's been singing since she was just a little girl, she did not learn to play an instrument until much later in life. In 2013, her boss, Joe Allman, convinced her that she could learn guitar if she used the same teacher who taught him to play the upright bass. Hildebran eventually decided that her grandfather's vintage Gibson J-45 acoustic was too cool to sit around the house collecting dust, so she had to learn to play. Enter the fabulous Billie Feather, who taught Hildebran to play guitar. Together, the two of them formed The Gingersnaps, and both are members of a larger group called The Unbroken Circle, a bluegrass/old-time string band based in Winston Salem.
Palmyra Romeo(upright bass, vocals) was introduced to the rich musical history of the South upon moving from Boston to Carrboro in middle school. Her interest in folk and bluegrass music grew as a teenager, listening to friends play around campfires and attending local music festivals like the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival. She grew up playing piano and singing in the choir at school, and started playing bluegrass bass as an adult so she could join in on the jams. "There is a common language in bluegrass that brings together people from many backgrounds and generations, I love the musical connection and community that it creates." Palmyra recently graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with a master's in Occupational Therapy and along with the Gingersnaps, also plays upright bass in the triangle-based bluegrass band Counterclockwise String Band.
Photo Credit: F-Stop Grooves/Gabriel Nelson 2018