Susan Alcorn is a Baltimore, Maryland-based composer and musician who has received international recognition as an innovator of the pedal steel guitar, an instrument whose sound is commonly associated with country and western music. Alcorn has absorbed the technique of C&W pedal steel playing and refined it to a virtuosic level. Her original music reveals the influence of free jazz, avant-garde classical music, Indian ragas, Indigenous traditions, and other musics of the world. The UK Guardian describes her music as “beautiful, glassy and liquid, however far she strays from pulse and conventional harmony.”
In addition to frequent tours throughout North America and Europe, Susan has performed at the London Festival of Experimental Music; the Musique Action Festival in Nancy, France; Leipzig JazzTage; Subtonic and CBGB’s in New York; Ateliers Tampon in Paris; and at Il Continiere in Rome.
Though mostly a solo performer, she has collaborated with numerous artists including Pauline Oliveros, Eugene Chadbourne, Jandek, Peter Kowald, Ellen Fullman, Caroline Kraabel, Lê Quan Ninh, Joe McPhee, LaDonna Smith, Mike Cooper, and Johanna Varner.
Her newest release, And I Await the Resurrection of the Pedal Steel Guitar, is available on Olde English Spelling Bee.
“Susan A is a great player who has mastered and redefined an unlikely instrument. With an exquisite touch she invoked it’s history, extended its emotional and ethereal strengths and explored its microtonal possibilities—drawing it out of the contexts that traditionally render it invisible, or generic, and into its own mature discourse—reminding improvisers that ‘free’ includes the right to be romantic, melodic and four to the bar.”
Chris Cutler, The Wire (UK)
MichaelAntonParker, Downtown Music Gallery
“From the relatively unadorned sound of pedal steel and amplifier, Susan Alcorn brings forth music that is as full of emotional honesty as it is of melodic and harmonic exploration and surprise. She possesses a virtuosic technique that is always at the service of the musical moment and its possibilities for expression and communication.”
Kevin McNeil Brown, Dusted Features
“Alcorn’s pedal steel tones, stretch, float, and dance in the air, and on the ears, expressing something that’s worlds beyond words, yet able to communicate on the deepest level.”
Pete Gershon, Signal to Noise
“Alcorn is a rare musician who embraces the full spectrum of expressive possibilities for an instrument to communicate a full human experience instead of a restricted aesthetic paradigm. She’s a maverick and her solo recordings are destined to become classics that we turn to year after year for relief from common music.”
“Twin Beams” for the Chris Cutler Project
“You and Me”