Photo Credit: Sheri Mason

Photo Credit: Sheri Mason


With To Love To Leave To Live, Minneapolis-based Her Crooked Heart presents a debut record unique in form, made up of cyclical narratives and intertwining histories, each informing the next. The result is a transformative song cycle, led by a charismatic personality, wholly indifferent to expectations of genre and instrumentation. Rachel Ries, the writer, multi-instrumentalist and producer behind Her Crooked Heart, demonstrates immense vulnerability and multifaceted musical craftsmanship to deliver a personal and profound musical soliloquy on love, leaving and the life that follows after burning it all down.

In 2013, after two and a half years of marriage, Ries found herself touring a record around the world, accompanied by a stack of divorce papers in a pocket of her suitcase. She had left her marriage and a good man in New York City and leapt into the untethered unknown. What transpired was in turns euphoria and despondence; old lessons learned in new ways. The songs on To Love To Leave To Live are a compassionate and at times wry catalogue of those tumultuous years. With co-producer Shane Leonard, she enlisted several collaborators whom she’d met on the road; some while touring with Anaïs MitchellBrian Joseph (Sufjan Stevens, Paul Simon), Rob Moose(yMusic, Alabama Shakes), Mike Lewis (Bon Iver), Alec Spiegelman (Cuddle Magic),Pat KeenJohn DeHaven and Ben Lester.

To bring these songs and this record to the stage, Ries has enlisted a powerful group of women; women who can, in their way, take on the feminine, humanist mantle of Her Crooked Heart and make it their own. The quartet blends classical and electric guitar; piano and vintage synths; cello, woodwinds and drum triggers. This merging of acoustic and synthetic sounds is all in service of the voice: four part vocal harmonies that shift from ethereal to an elemental wail, but always tell a story of transformation.

Rachel is a 2018 Rauschenberg 3Arts Fellow and a recipient of two 2019 MN Arts Board Grants: Arts Initiative and Arts on Tour. 


Rachel Ries [aka Her Crooked Heart] has a sensibility as familiar and comforting as it is surprising. At one turn, she's got the vocal prowess of Tori Amos; at another, the complexity of a Radiohead tune. TO LOVE TO LEAVE TO LIVE is a record I've not stopped playing since I first heard it, and one I can anticipate revisiting for many years to come

– Amy Reitnouer, Executive Director, The Bluegrass Situation

NPR Weekend Edition Sunday Interview w Rachel Martin

...her clear voice, imbued with, at various turns, strength and fragility, incorporates folk-country and jazz influences. – No Depression

A gorgeous gush of warm-blooded harmonies – Uncut

Ghost of a Gardener is a technicolor treasure, in word and melody – Maverick UK

Setting her apart from many of her peers are the adventurous and compelling instrumental arrangements of her sweetly poetic material – 8/10, Exclaim!

...mesmerizing songs that approach the dark magic of Marilynne Robinson's novel "Housekeeping" – NJ Star-Ledger

Rachel is also an accomplished educator and uncommon choir director who believes everyone has a voice. She works to make art accessible to people of all ages and abilities through her tailor-made educational offerings. Learn how you can work together here.

Rachel is a passionate, creative, and thoughtful teacher. she brings a deep empathy and enthusiasm to the students that she works with. It's obvious that she cares deeply about all aspects of the student experience, from the pedagogical to the personal.

– Corey Harrower, Assistant Director, Vermont Governor's Institute on the Arts