dorothy snowden williams was born in mount kisco, ny in 1967. she grew up in chappaqua with two older sisters, meredith and julie. her nickname comes not from the daughters of the american revolution (although she does mention the organization in one of her songs), but from a mispronunciation of "dorothy" by one of her sisters.

dar’s parents were apparently "liberal and loving" people who encouraged a career in songwriting. their influence led dar to choose the arts as her calling, and at wesleyan university she majored in theater and religion. she’s claimed to have taken up “every religion” at one time or another, except jewish “because the semester ended.” she has also admitted to being “really bad at buddhism.” her interest in religion continues today; while writing songs for the green world she began reading drawing down the moon by margo adler. in concert, she stated that of all the beliefs she was introduced to by the book, she enjoys discordianism the most because of their monkey-related creation myth.

dar moved to boston in 1990 to explore her career options in the arts, but at this point was still more interested in theatre than in music. she quickly became stage manager of the opera company of boston, but on the side began to write songs and take voice lessons. her voice teacher pushed her to try her hand at coffeehouses, so she did.

for dar, performing onstage was extremely difficult for two main reasons. first, in her own words, boston was “the boot camp of folk music.” more importantly, though, was her acute stage-fright. you can still see it today in her live shows, this little aura of giddy nervousness, but back then it was much worse. says scott alarik of the boston globe, “her voice, today so supple and emotionally articulate, would crack and splinter, often simply fading away in mid-lyric, leaving her helplessly waiting for the next line to come around on the guitar]....” still, “she kept coming back and coming back.”

as we know by now, persistence paid off. she recorded her first full album, the honesty room, on her own label (burning field music) in 1994, and it was soon picked up by waterbug records. in 1995 dar moved to razor & tie, which re-released the album. dar has released three more albums on the razor & tie label: mortal city in 1996, end of the summer in 1997, and the green world in 2000.

several things have helped dar’s career along. in the early days she opened for joan baez, who would make dar relatively well-known by recording some of her songs. she has also toured extensively and collaborated with many artists, most notably richard shindell and lucy kaplansky (cry cry cry) and the nields! she has toured with the likes of ani difranco and richard thompson, and participated in lilith fair (we can forgive her). in general, her career has had a true “grassroots folk” backing to it, relying heavily on community coffeehouses, public radio, and an extensive fan base on the internet. like any folk artist, though, she has given back to her community, founding organizations like the snowden environmental trust and taking part in many benefit concerts.

dar has long maintained that she wants her music to be an “efficient career”-- something she can do her entire life. the way she strives to accomplish this is to “continuously court your muse; to keep writing stuff that feels risky about things you believe in, that you’re really feeling.”

there isn’t much we know about dar’s personal life, because although her songs are often about her own past, she hates “journal-entry songs” and prefers to write for others rather than unload her emotions into her music and then expect people to care. for years fans have argued over the question of dar’s sexual orientation; songs like iowa and the blessings seem to be hinting at encounters with female lovers. and then they’ve argued over arguing over it, because if there is one thing dar seems to hate, it’s people discussing her private life. one of the most intimate things known about her, really, is that she’s allergic to dairy. (in a recent interview with a toronto magazine, dar finally caved in and let us know that she's bisexual.)

we also know, thanks again to alarik, that she doesn’t like being called quirky: “i find the world quirky somewhat cute-ifying.” she can’t stand cliches and chooses instead to “dig deeper” into the meanings of things and find their inner beauty. she ignores the cultural icons of our time and chooses instead to celebrate “the real heroes” in our lives: are you out there commends her favorite disc jockeys for helping her stave off her loneliness through music she could relate to. arrival includes one of my favorite opening lines: “my dad is a miracle and so’s my mom.” there’s even a song for artist mark rothko.

what i like best about dar, though, is the aura her music exudes. her songs are mature and open-minded, and unafraid to be completely honest. these are songs that anyone can grab hold of and “own,” because after filling them up with beautiful colors and personalities and stories, she leaves them open for her listeners. and it’s hard to stay in a dark, angry and helpless mood when there’s somebody who’s “been there” singing in your ear, telling you to lighten up and get the hell over it because life is just too cool to waste feeling sorry for yourself. your only mission is to be happy.

early tapes

full albums

oh yeah... got this info from,, and scott alarik's boston globe articles

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