March 1, 2005 by

Rachel Bissex


Categories: Musicians

rbissex.jpgRachel Bissex, an award-winning folk singer and songwriter, died on Feb. 20 from complications of breast cancer. She was 48.
Raised in Newton, Mass., Bissex was 13 when her mother gave her a $35 guitar. Using instruction books penned by Joan Baez and Peter, Paul and Mary, she taught herself to play the instrument and write music. Bissex earned a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from Johnson State College in 1982, then moved to Burlington, Vt. She delved into the town’s burgeoning music scene and founded the Burlington Coffee House, a local venue for contemporary folk artists, and the Burlington Discover Jazz Festival.
Over the next two decades, Bissex developed a loyal following on the folk festival circuit. She recorded five albums, opened for artists such as Joan Armatrading, Ray Charles and Shawn Colvin, and played at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Her latest record, “In White Light,” featured orchestral arrangements of her music performed by the Vermont Youth Orchestra. Bissex won the Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Award and the Wildflower Songwriting Contest. In 2001, she was a finalist in the Telluride Troubadour Contest and received an honorable mention in the Billboard Song Competition.
In recent years, Bissex delved into other creative pursuits. She acted in the 2004 film “Nothing Like Dreaming,” and directed the play “Sun Spot: The Crime of the Need to Be Right,” which was written by her husband, playwright Stephen Goldberg. Bissex is survived by Goldberg and their two children, Emma and Matt.
Rachel Bissex Download MP3s by Bissex

3 Responses to Rachel Bissex

  1. Johnny D

    We love Rachel, she was kind enough to play a gig at our coffee house in Skippack, Pennsylvania called Johnny D’s around 1999 even know we were new and somewhat small. We still talk about that gig and we are still listening to the CD (for at least the 500th time). I hope her family will keep her music playing forever, I know we will. Thanks for the music Rachel

  2. Chelsea

    Rachel Bissex has touched my life in a different way. I heard her for the first time through the Relay For Life. I was later saddened to hear that she had already passed on. Her lyrics touched my heart. I found myself crying and not knowing why, from simply listening to her music. They played two songs from “In White Light” that night at the Relay, “Here Now” and “In White Light”. That’s all it took and I was instantly hooked. I am a writer myself and listening to her words inspire my writings each day. Many of my family memebers have had cancer, and many of them are gone now, the one most close to me was my grandfather. But, my other grandfather has survived it 4 times now. And it is all because of hope. And that, I think, is why Rachels songs touch me so much. They are about hope and finding the comfort at the end of each road. Thank You Rachel…for all you give.

  3. m l

    rachel sings
    I would have attended your funeral –
    I wanted to,
    Because I always liked you
    And found you willing and friendly
    there’s a word to describe you
    Like bubbles in a glass
    But we were not so close
    Just acquainted, friendly, our
    Paths crossing often enough to
    Have a short history
    of sorts –
    college years at johnson,
    the business of music,
    some cause or other
    none of which seemed reason enough
    To take up pew space when I knew
    the church would be filled to bursting
    family and fans
    friends and politicians,
    So I didn

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