About Helen

Helen Avakian, upstate New York singer/songwriter/guitarist, took some twists and turns before committing to a musical path. Daughter of a physicist and artist, she studied guitar as a child, but for a number of years it was one activity among many.

At age 16, a magazine article on Twin Oaks Community led Avakian from suburban Wilmington, Delaware to check out communal farm living in Virginia. She found the experience uplifting, but too settled for her life at the time, so she jumped into college a year early. Along the way she built a steel string guitar, a task she found so difficult she became convinced that playing music might hold more promise for her.

Photo Credits (left to right): Peter Avakian, Lucille Avakian, Ken Gabrielsen
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Photos by Charlene Williams and Ron Frazer

Helen then moved to New York city where she attended Hunter College and was offered a full scholarship for a Master's Degree in classical guitar performance. Excited, Helen put in many hours of practice, but ended up injuring herself by playing with too much tension. During this difficult period she turned to writing songs, something she had always wanted to do, but had never taken the time to pursue. All is well that ends well; Helen relearned how to play with a more effective technique, earned her degree, and kept writing ever since.

Her songs have been described as "quite literate without being pretentious, interesting without being inaccessible" (Poughkeepsie Journal,) and reviewers comment on her "lovely voice and guitar playing." (Free Time) As a performer Helen has been favorably compared to Tori Amos, Jewel, and Natalie Merchant. 'In my CD changer for review are discs by Patti Smith, Joni Mitchell, Lou Reed and Van Morrison. But guess who fit comfortably alongside these biggies? Is Helen Avakian your final answer? Well, it should be.' says Rhythm and News Magazine. Appearing in an array of situations from coffeehouses to concert halls, she has opened for Mary Chapin Carpenter, Marshall Crenshaw, and the New York Philharmonic among others.

Helen's first CD "Helen Avakian Live at the Rosendale Street Festival" was released in 1999, and "presents a flawless performance." (Southern Dutchess News) Her just released studio album Feb 2001 "Vanishing Point" has already won "Favorite Recording" from Rhythm and News Magazine. Helen looks forward to promoting 'Vanishing Point' which she hopes will take her on new avenues of exploration.

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