Musician Songwriter Cellist
Iowa City, IA to Charleston, SC
Degree in Cello Performance, University of Iowa (2011)
Gregory Alan Isakov 2016 - Cellist
Brandi Carilile 2015-2021 - Cellist and Backup Vocalist
Sam Rae 2011-Present - Independent artist, songwriter
Madison Square Garden, Steven Colbert, Seth Meyers, Ellen, Austin City Limits, World Cafe Live and more
Sam Rae (they/them) blends the traditional landscape of storytelling through song with their roots in classical cello and improvisational cello looping. With a degree in cello performance Rae’s roots were laid in a classical past however, Rae’s strongest talent becomes obvious as they showcase their songwriting and vocal delivery, weaving tasteful lyrics and subtly complex guitar voicings into a story that a diverse audience can hold onto, providing comfort amidst chaos. Rae focuses the performance lens on their Americana/Folk driven songs with vibrant vocals and acoustic guitar painting achingly familiar melodies with strong lyrical content. Rae uses the cello as a hypnotic interlude between songs weaving the performance together with looped cello melodies that remind the audience of the beauty in the improvised, present moment. Their Americana inspired songwriting juxtaposed with interludes of portal evoking semi-psychedelic cello looping makes for a refreshingly unique musical experience.
Alongside their own performances they have doubled as cellist and back up singer for Grammy Award-winning artist Brandi Carlile (2015, 2018-2021) and have toured extensively around the US collaborating with a variety of artists including Brandi Carlile, Gregory Alan Isakov, The Highwomen, Courtney Marie Andrews and more. They have been touring and performing original music since 2011 after receiving their degree in Classical Cello Performance from the University of Iowa. In 2020 Sam Rae released their third and most poignant album Ten Thousand Years recorded at the Hall of Justice Studios in Seattle, WA following albums Stories From the Marrow (2014) and Bring us to New Islands (2017). Charleston Magazine describes them as an entity that ‘…is intentional. Once you accept that Rae is taking you on a journey, you can surrender to the ride.’
Received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Cello Performance from the University of Iowa with invitation to the Honors Convocation recital with their string quartet, 'The Mantis Quartet.' Studied Jazz and improvisation on the cello alongside the classical genre. Studied cello abroad in Valparaíso, Chile with Mircea-Mihai Ticu in 2010.
Moved from Iowa City, IA to Boulder, CO where Sam Rae established themselves amidst the Boulder music community and began exploring songwriting and the art of live improvisational cello looping. Recorded their first record, Stories from the Marrow, a live improvisational performance at Wind Over the Earth Studios (2014).
Moved to Oakland, CA and began touring with Brandi Carlile on the acoustic and unplugged 'Pin Drop Tour' throughout the United States and Abroad.
Recorded second record, Bring Us to New Islands, at Wind Over the Earth Studios (2017) and embarked on a national tour.
Moved to Charleston, SC. Began touring with Brandi Carlile full time as cellist and backup-vocalist (2018-2021). Joined the Highwomen for multiple shows. Performed at Madison Square Garden. Embarked on multiple national solo tours as Sam Rae and recorded and released their third record, Ten Thousand Years (2020), Seattle Washington.