Gayla Drake Paul has been playing and writing guitar music for over a quarter of a century. One of a tiny handful of guitarists to master both fingerstyle and flatpicking guitar techniques in multiple genres and tunings, she is rarer still for her remarkable singing voice, prolific songwriting and compositional skills. After a shoulder injury made it impossible for her to play guitar for more than a few minutes at a time, followed by 2 bouts of cancer, she recovered completely from both conditions after treatment and surgery, and has returned to playing and writing with renewed passion, releasing 2 new CDs in 2005 - Restless and I Know This Road, and is currently working on a third. While in convalescence she continued to compose music for public television and radio, facilitated songwriting workshops and clinics, and worked on projects with various musical and educational organizations.
Her first 4 CDs for Ivanhoe Road Music received glowing reviews from Fingerstyle Guitar, Acoustic Musician, Mister Guitar, Dirty Linen, SingOut! and Acoustic Guitar magazines, as well as the reviewer from the British publication Rock ‘n Reel and numerous regional publications. These CDs continue to get substantial airplay on over 80 public and commercial radio stations nationwide and overseas, and are listed in MusicHound Folk: The Essential Album Guide.
The nationally accalimed Acoustic Guitar Magazine chose “How Can I Keep From Singing” as one of the top 4 contemporary acoustic guitar CDs of the decade of the 1990's. The prestigious Web organization Almost Folk ranked Gayla’s first CD, Gayla Drake Paul, as the number 3 female songwriter CD of the 1990's.
Gayla is listed on several music-oriented Web sites in “Top Ten” style lists for songwriting, favorite or essential CDs, and for her guitar virtuosity, including a site formerly affiliated with Rolling Stone Magazine, www.digitaldreamdoor.com, which ranks her among the top 100 acoustic guitarists in the world.
In July 2003, the groundbreaking Retrospective 1982-2002 was released, a CD and CD-Rom set containing a “Best of” audio CD and an interactive CDR with all of her recorded music to date (86 songs) plus her musical auto-biography and discography, and all the lyrics, tunings, capo positions and technical notes for each of the songs. From 1998-2000 she released three limited edition CDs, which are currently being re-issued by Ivanhoe Road Music.
In 2003 she founded and hosted the Iowa Songwriters’ Workshop, a 4-month skill-building workshop series that drew songwriters from throughout Iowa and from as far as the Twin Cities to study with her and work with other songwriters. She continues to lead songwriting workshops for special events, and in colleges and universities in the Midwest. Gayla also organized and hosted four Iowa Guitar Summits, featuring some of Iowa’s best and most innovative guitarists from a variety of genres.
From 1996-1998 she was the monthly fingerstyle guitar columnist for Acoustic Musician Magazine, and has also written workshops and features for Acoustic Guitar, Fingerstyle Guitar, Flatpicking Guitar, Home Recording and Crossroads.
She was invited to perform at Muriel Anderson’s All-Star Guitar Night at the NAMM show in Nashville, which was filmed and released on Homespun Video, a division of Hal Leonard. John Pearse Strings has given her a standing invitation to perform at the John Pearse String Thing at the NAMM shows. She has also performed at major national festivals including the arena stage at the Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle, Washington, which was broadcast nation-wide on NPR, and the Gallagher Guitar Festival in Tennessee. She was a featured performer on the Women’s Music Night broadcast of NPR’s “Tent Show Radio,” and on the nationally syndicated Chicago-based show The Flea Market. Iowa Public Television frequently uses Gayla’s music in their productions, many of which have gone on to win awards from various film and broadcasting agencies. Laney Goodman selected one of Gayla’s solo guitar pieces to be the theme music for her nationally syndicated radio program Women In Music in the late 1990's.
The Iowa Women’s Foundation named Gayla Iowa Woman Musician of the Year in 1996, and for the past 9 years in a row she has won an award from the ASCAP Popular Music Board. In a yearly reader poll, readers of The Icon named her best singer-songwriter 3 years in a row, and in 2000 best musical act.
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