Kelsea Little named her bundle of joy after the three great Neils—Diamond, Young and Innes, the comic songwriter of Monty Python fame. But her Neil isn't a baby; it's a 7-foot-tall harp.
Little doesn't play the heavenly classical music for which the instrument's usually known. Instead, the 22-year-old, fiery-haired singer-songwritermakes gritty, rhythmic indie-folk. She cites fellow harpist Joanna Newsom as her biggest influence and likes to take solos as a guitarist would.
"I really want to make the harp cool," she says.
With her metaphorical lyrics and interesting arrangements (her recorded songs incorporate harp, piano, ukulele and guitar), she pushes wider boundaries, too. On Personal Myth, a solo album that's set to come out later this year, she comes across as a young drifter who's playing with identity, exploring fact and fiction while navigating her own path in life."I like the feeling of people thinking, What's that girl about?'" she says. "In some ways it's just fun, and in some ways it's a defense mechanism."
With her music, she explores why people do what they do—in a way, it's her unique contribution to the world.
"My two main interests in life are creating art [and] helping people," she says. "I think everyone who has that interest in life finds different ways to do it . I realized a few years ago, this is my way."
Kelsea Little performs with Rob Deez, Kenny Eng and 13 others at Lestat's on Wednesday, Sept. 28. kelsealittle.com