Helen Avakian

About Helen

Helen Avakian is an award winning singer/songwriter/guitarist based in Madison, Wisconsin, formerly of the Hudson Valley in New York, where she was a beloved performer, recording artist, and teacher for many years.

International fingerstyle guitar champion 2014 She was voted number one Favorite Acoustic Act four times by Rhythm and News magazine and has won numerous songwriting awards, including seven first prizes and four honorable mentions from the NewSongs Contest at the Walnut Valley Festival in Kansas. In September 2014 Helen won the International Fingerstyle Championship also at the Walnut Valley Festival. She is the first female to do so since the championship became international in 2004, and the second female to ever win this prestigious contest that started in 1979 and draws virtuoso guitarists from around the world. (The first lady winner was Muriel Anderson 25 years prior in 1989 when the contest was called the National Fingerstyle Championship.)

Helen has received raves from reviewers who call her "a rising star," "guitar goddess," and "incredibly nuanced and dynamic...transcendent." She has appeared on PBS radio and television as well as on stage with Peter Yarrow (of Peter, Paul, and Mary), guitar star Pete Huttlinger, Mary Fahl (formerly of the October Project), and actresses Vanessa Redgrave and Rachel Kempson Redgrave. Other appearances include the Woodchoppers Ball (an annual gathering of nine virtuoso guitarists), Vassar College, Mannes College of Music and Bard College. She has opened for the New York Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall in Lincoln Center, Mary Chapin Carpenter, jazz guitar legend Stanley Jordan, Aztec Two Step, Marshall Crenshaw, Imogen Heap, Adrian Legg, Muriel Anderson, and Tom Chapin, to name a few.

Helen has produced recordings for other songwriters and appeared as a studio guitarist and vocalist for Priscilla Herdman, Bud Buckley, Dennis Mayes, and Terry Champlin. She contributed vocals and guitar to Pete Seeger's Grammy-nominated last album, The Storm King.

Helen was also an accompanist for the Flamenco dance program at Bard College for a number of years, and she taught at Marist College, Dutchess Community College and for the Fresh Air Fund Program under the auspices of the ASCAP Foundation. Helen's album, I Love the Moon, has received much acclaim and radio airplay. Elmore Magazine calls the CD "new and exciting...indelible songs centered around a girl and her guitar, singing what matters most." Her most recent album, and first solo guitar offering, Notes from Helen, "is an extraordinary CD, ranking with the very best fingerstyle - or any style - guitar album. With Notes from Helen, Avakian is well on her way to joining the ranks not only of top female guitarists, but of the best fingerstyle guitarists, period."  © Céline Keating Minor 7th

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