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Singer-Songwriter Anaïs Mitchell

With Mike Pesca in for Tom Ashbrook

Singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell -– her new album: “Young Man in America.”

Anais Mitchell (anaismitchell.com)

Anais Mitchell (anaismitchell.com)

Her voice is sweet her message is potent. singer songwriter Anaïs Mitchel’s new album Young man in America is about a gender and a generation abandoned and exposed. Its raw real and rhythmic.

As on her last album the impressively audacious folk opera Hadestown – Mitchell is working with myths and archetypes, but this time its modern myths and modern man. Anaïs Mitchell is in studio to talk and perform with her backing band.

This hour, On Point: Music that captures a moment.

-Mike Pesca


Anaïs Mitchell, singer and songwriter. Her latest album is Young Man In America. You can find a list of her tour dates here.

Video: Young Man In America

Check out Mitchell singing the title track from her new album in the On Point studio.


From The Reading List

Guardian “The title track, about a son whose father is “a repo man” and who “arrived like a cannonball”, sets the tone with its mix of frontier archaisms and modern references, while subsequent songs take the part of mothers, lovers, orphans, poets and shepherds.”

Seven Days “Now Mitchell is back with a new project, Young Man in America, released on her new label, Wilderland Records — her previous efforts were all on DiFranco’s Righteous Babe imprint. ”

NPR “The ancient tale of Orpheus searching for his beloved in the underworld has been told many times. The Greek hero with musical superpowers was portrayed by composer Monteverdi in an early-17th-century opera. “

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  • Dana

    Do not miss this Vermont original. Anais is writing and performing at the peak of her powers. She’ll break your heart AND make you think.

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Video *was* there… 

    Greetings Anaïs from your friends in New England Yearly Meeting!


  • Miajoydavis

    I am definitely a kidult right now.  Good one, Mike.

  • Anais Wheeler

    I always thought Anais pronounced her name differently than I do, but now I know she doesn’t. It’s unusual and cool for me to hear my name in the media! Anais, are you named after Anais Nin?

  • Mr. Trees

    WOW. What am amazing sound and what an amazing song.  Your voices are haunting and beautiful.  How can I get more, and, please come to Iowa.

  • Steve from Arlington

    She is fantastic live, and her voice is angelic.

  • Rsm100x

    Sounds a bit like Kate Bush, no?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Hank-Hebhoe/100000589531514 Hank Hebhoe

      That’s more insulting than anything Mike Pesca said.

  • Richard

    Thank you for taking the time and space to let us get to know Anais and where her most recent project came from… She has such an interesting and unique voice. She was great at Passim last night!!!

  • Murray

    hard to believe this is a 30 year old woman speaking. she sounds like a 14 year old girl. her music is sweet, but as a 33 year old woman myself, I cringe listening to her speak.

    • Music Lover

       Seriously?  This is your comment . . . it is such a shame women feel compelled to make such negative comments about other women.  This is best left to the playground.

      • Murray

        It makes me sorry that many women today make themselves sound like little girls. And you seem to think that’s where we belong?

        • Kiah

          That’s just how her voice sounds! Don’t be so ignorant.

    • guest

      holy internalized sexism, batman.  

    • nj_v2

      I cringe reading your post.

  • BHA in Vermont

    Cool live video feed!

  • batsheva

    I’m in love with Mike Pesca.  He’s got such a refreshing radio voice – a lot of personality, doesn’t sound like he was cloned in the radio lab (not the show — the cloning lab).  It’s a great sports voice – and I don’t even care about sports.  But also sounds terrific on this show, on his best behavior, like someone’s restraining him on a leash.

  • Cindy

    Thank you for featuring Anais Mitchell. She is an unbelievable musician. 

  • mia

    Could you asked Anais if she is influenced by Joanna Newsom, or if their very similar sound is coincidental, being rural/coastal contemporaries?

  • Tara

    APPLAUSE!!! APPLAUSE!! Proud to be a Vermonter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dorothy-Paradis/1266963984 Dorothy Paradis

    amazing – would love to see her in concert….reminds me of the folk singers from my youth (1960′s,1970′s)

  • Sfreas

    Thanks for the video cast. So great to watch radio!

  • Lisa

    Great interview and looking frwd. to the album .Loved hearing about your roots and the shepherding – heard Anais is looking for a taxidermist- Laura Zerra is your girl ! 

  • Roger in VT

    So cool for Anais to incorporate theatrics into her work.  It’s refreshing to see artists who aren’t enamoured with the garbage of today’s “pop” music (if hip-hop can be called music).  Bravo to ‘On Point’ for highlighting (and video streaming!) singer-songwriters that remind me of when artists like Michael Stipe, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Harry Chapin and Shawn Colvin were big on FM radio.

  • Longfellow’sEvangeline

    When a story is told in song, and it deserve repeating, because if encourages others, reflects their life, carries you away from your problems, it will be picked up,  and sung by others.  This is story telling.  I met someone who is listed as folk singer, back when there were only 52 views on his youtube.  I watched because I love accordion.  I heard poetry, I heard a real troubedour, and I fell in love for ever, even though the words are Russian and Ukranian, I hear and feel.  I wish him well.  He is the godson of my poetic heart.  His name is Igor Rasteryaev.  In English it translates a Igor Losing.  This is funny, but he is not ‘losing,’ he is gaining, I think.  But I don’t expect any american who doesn’t understand music or can’t handle subtitles to understand.  But, if you want to hear another up and coming  Folk Singer, from the Ukrain, put Igor Rasteryaev in your YouTube search.  And this girl is wonderful, too.  I will send link to my other god son and nephew.  Thank you.  Oh, now I think, Igor is at sunfish731 chanel on youtube.  

  • What is the Wall

    After living in Jerusalem for a year, when I here anything about a “wall” I imagine the militerized seperation barrier there.  I wonder if Anais would be willing to speak more to the meaning of her song “Why we build a wall” (which you played, briefly). 

    • Chase Brunton

       I haven’t heard the song, but when people build walls, it is a figurative thing. They hide behind invisible walls away from certain people.

    • Pianissimo_sempre

      I think in the context of the song, she’s talking about the “haves” keeping the “have-nots” down. The song is from her Hadestown album. Highly recommend it, by the way :)

    • BEEZ

      She’s probably referring to the WALL OF SHAME on the U.S.- Mexican border.

    • Anonymous

      Song of the Magi on Anais Mitchell The Brightness does more directly address the situation in Jerusalem. I think that she was more generally making a statement about poverty and toil with Hadestown.

  • adkerratic

    Loving this – listening as I sow leek and onion seeds in flats while the snow comes down. Great new voice; I need to hear more And, Batsheva – I heard him first! 

  • Chris in NH

    Seems like women are really on the rise in the folk scene and that vt is producing a lot of great artists in that vein–any insights into this trend?

  • Tara

    Anais- I saw you perform once when I was 17… about 6 years ago. Your music really tugged at my heartstrings then, and it produces the same effect now. I was wondering- did you always want to be a singer/songwriter? Did you ever doubt this career choice?

  • Great Blue

    Mike, you just insulted Anais pretty terribly–”It’s not Joni Mitchell” and then praising Joni M to the skies?  Come on, dude, be more sensitive.

    • Jenny

      I agree – the way that Mr. Pesca addressed Anaïs’s voice was extremely untactful. I saw her at Club Passim last night and was blown away by the gorgeous, sincere, ethereal qualities of her voice. Telling her, among other things, that she is “not Joan Baez” was an insult indeed, and completely uncalled for.

  • Susan Forbes Hansen

    I’m a folk DJ in Connecticut (and Old Woman in America), and I’ve loved and respected Anais’s music since her visit to WHUS 7 or so years ago.  I’m lucky enough to have seen Hadestown in its full staging  in Rutland VT – what a fabulous performance that was – and now I look forward to her new work in concert next week.

  • Judy in Beverly, Mass.

    Anaïs, I was enjoying this interview and really appreciating your music when I suddenly put 2 and 2 together and realized that your father was the Don Mitchell who was in my class at Swarthmore, back in the day. (I knew your mother slightly, as well, through early-childhood circles in Vermont in the ’90s.) I will look forward to the release of your new album!

  • aj


  • Susan

    I think that On Point should look for a new substitute interviewer.  To have talked about the pronunciation of Anais’ name and then go on to mispronounce it was only a small part of this missed opportunity.  Not only is Anais Mitchell an important folk singer, but she is respectful and smart.  Mr. Pesca appears not to be.

    • BEEZ

      That’s pretty rude and out of line; to question his intelligence. Mike does well to manage the conversations. It’s not his forte necessarily. It’s pretty hard to get an equal substitute for Tom.

    • Haha

      Well you didn’t type it correctly, and it’s right up above.

      What the hell kind of name is Anaïs anyway?

  • Chase Brunton

    Love this music, but I always feel it is funny how fans of the music always make it to be something far crazier than the songwriter had in mind. Like, how this guy Mike is describing her voice and her music in terms of reviews he has heard, and she doesn’t even know what he is talking about. That is the difference between consumers and musicians. As listeners, we freak out, place our labels, write elaborate reviews that put the artists high on pedestals, and sometimes even lash out when they make something that isn’t up to our expectations. Maybe one day we will realize that we do not own the music…

    • Chase Brunton

       When I said Mike, I meant Tom. My apologies.

  • Chase Brunton

    No disrespect to Mike, I am not judging him. I just feel that is my opinion about many reviewers and fans

  • chase brunton

    Pardon me, I did not realize that Tom is the radio host, not Mike. Great job getting her on the show guys!

  • rbj

    well, i hadn’t heard of Anais before, even though she’s from Vermont and i like her music.  doesn’t sound so much like KaTe Bush, but more like Noe Venable (a sorta friend of mine who used to tour with Ani) who had spent some time up in Cambridge while attending Harvard.  the other weird coincidence is that Anais is playing up here in my backyard tonight.  so i better go the gig.  had no idea.

  • CDR

    Another VT artist to recommend is Michele Choiniere (www.michelechoiniere.com). She’s played Lowell Folk Fest, is a Smithsonian Folkways artist, and is a imperfectly described as a mix of Edith Piaf and the McGarrigles. We should get her on WBUR….

  • Zimm02186

    It was great to hear this show and Anais’ beautiful voice and lyrics-as I listened I realized I had actually been on her farm in Vermont several years ago. My son was studying at Middlebury College where her father Don Mitchell was teaching. As part of a course he taught, his students were invited to spend a night helping to birth his new Spring Lambs-journaling thoroughout the night about the experience etc. was part of the course work. We were fortunate to visit my son the weekend after the births-saw and held those new lambs. One of my favorite pictures which I look at every day is of my son standing in Don’s barn holding one of the lambs he watched come into the world just a few days earlier-a definite highlight of my son’s time at Middlebury. As a devotee of folk music since the 60′s I am hooked on Anais’ music and can appreciate the rich environment that influences her work.

  • Jed

    This wasn’t an artist with an interviewer, this was an musician face to face with a critic.  “Your voice is uh, pretty, it’s not Joan Baez but…” The interview was uncomfortable, had little respect with no intent to discover the depth this gifted and unique artist.

  • stephen miller

    Thanks so much for presenting Anais Mitchell- I didn’t know of her; what a treat!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1322376583 Brian Leavitt

      Amen! It really struck a chord with me and I really enjoyed the interview.

  • Joe

    So happy to see Anais and Rachel here – but, seriously, find someone to edit your copy. This is ridiculous and lowers the site’s credibility.

  • Baloney Joe

    Musician interviews always suck – regardless of the host, but please – less talk, more rock.  This guy would not shut up.  Now go listen to Terry Gross to hear how it’s done.  

  • Natspringspring

    I have a vision of Anais and Joe Pug collaborating on a song or two. Could be pure brilliance!

  • Natspringspring

    Also, I love how James Reed describes your work:

    “In the Americana field, Punch Brothers, Abigail Washburn, Ben Sollee, and Joanna Newsom feel like her natural peers. You admire their work for its vision and virtuosity, but it’s never clear how much you’re supposed to enjoy it on casual terms. It’s not just music for music’s sake; it’s art that requires some investment.”
    -The Boston Globe

    Anais, your song writing and artistry is honest and real. Thank you for seeing your world and responding in a medium that can be shared. Keep up the good work!

    Abigail Washburn… I see the resemblance: piercing eyes, crystalline voices. 

  • Julio

    Well done Anais, excited for your new work. Very potent and sincere interpretation of your experience with memory, and the contingency of the present.
    Mike Pesca as music critic has the perception and sensitivity of Fox News sports announcer.

  • Ari

    OK, I did it for you, just copy and paste. At least correct the spelling of the name:
    Her voice is sweet and her message is potent. Singer/songwriter Anaïs
    Mitchell’s new album “Young Man in America” [or italicize] is about a gender, and a
    generation, abandoned and exposed. It’s raw, real, and rhythmic.

    • Tybotybo

      You just can’t help it, can you?!?

  • Tyonk

    very cool stuff Anais!  Keep it up please.

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