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Zeena Parkins

Zeena Parkins
Zeena Parkins performing with Cosa Brava at
Jazzit in Salzburg, Austria, April 5, 2008.
(© Markus Lackinger)
Background information
Birth name Zeena Parkins
Born 1956
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Genres Experimental,
Free improvisation
Occupation(s) Musician, composer
Instruments Harp, accordion, keyboards, omnichord
Years active 1980s–present
Labels No Man's Land, Tzadik
Associated acts News from Babel, Skeleton Crew, Keep the Dog, Cosa Brava, John Zorn, Ikue Mori

Zeena Parkins is an American harpist active in rock music, free improvisation and jazz. Parkins plays standard harps, as well as several custom-made one-of-a kind electric harps; she also plays piano and accordion. She is currently a guest faculty member for composition courses at Mills College.[1][2]

Born in 1956 in Detroit, Michigan, she studied at Bard College and moved to New York City in 1984.[2]

Her work ranges from solo performance to large ensembles. Besides standard and electric harps, her work also incorporates Foley, field recordings, analog synthesizers, samplers, oscillators and homemade instruments.[1]

She has done several solo recordings and has also recorded or performed with Björk, John Zorn (including in Cobra performances), Elliott Sharp, Ikue Mori, Butch Morris, Tin Hat Trio, Jim O'Rourke, Fred Frith, Chris Cutler, Lee Ranaldo, Nels Cline, Pauline Oliveros, Anthony Braxton, Matmos, Yoko Ono, Christian Marclay, Courtney Love's band Hole and others.[1][2][3]

She has been a member of a number of experimental rock bands, including No Safety, News from Babel, Skeleton Crew and Fred Frith's review band, Keep the Dog.[4] In March 2008 she joined Frith's Cosa Brava quintet comprising Frith, Parkins, Carla Kihlstedt, Matthias Bossi, and The Norman Conquest.

Parkins has often worked with dance companies and choreographers, including the John Jasperse Company, Jennifer Monson, Neil Greenberg, Emmanuelle Vo-Dinh, BodyCartography Project, [5] and Jennifer Lacey, and has won a Bessie Award for "sustained achievement in composing scores for dance."[1] Parkins received a 1997 Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award.

She has also worked with video artist Janene Higgins[6][7] and visual artists Daria Martin, Cynthia Madansky and Mandy McIntosh.[1]


  • Discography 1
    • Video 1.1
  • Notes 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


With Björk

With Alex Cline

With Nels Cline

With Fred Frith

With News from Babel

With Marc Ribot

With John Zorn

With Bobby Previte

  • Terminals (Cantaloupe, 2014)



  1. ^ a b c d e Zeena Parkins performer biography in Misuse... program (2007)
  2. ^ a b c Zeena Parkins at AllMusic
  3. ^ Zeena Parkins: Biography, official site.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Zeena Parkins: Works, official site.
  5. ^ Zeena Parkins artist profile from P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center, an affiliate of The Museum of Modern Art. Retrieved on June 18, 2008.
  6. ^ "Wake the Dead Spring Music Series : Arch and How I See the World, #1". Location One. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  7. ^ "Zeena Parkins & Janene Higgins, WRO '09 Media Art Biennale, Poland". WRO Art Center, Wroclaw, Poland. 


External links

  • Zeena Parkins, official site.
    • Zeena Parkins: Works, official site.
  • Zeena Parkins at AllMusic.
  • Zeena Parkins discography.
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