The day after the 2016 presidential election, singer-songwriter Gabriel Kahane boarded a train at Penn Station and traveled 8,980 miles around the continental U.S., talking to dozens of strangers in an attempt to better understand his country and fellow citizens. The resulting album and stage piece, 8980: Book of Travelers (Nonesuch Records), is at once a prayer for empathy and reconciliation, as well as an unflinching examination of the complex and often troubled history of the United States. This fall, Kahane embarks on a thirty-city North American tour in support of the album.
Over the last decade, Gabriel has quietly established himself as a songwriter all his own, grafting a deep interest in storytelling to a keen sense of harmony and rhythm. His major label debut, The Ambassador, a study of Los Angeles seen through the lens of ten street addresses, was hailed by Rolling Stone as “one of the year’s very best albums”.
Gabriel has collaborated with a diverse array of artists, including Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird, Blake Mills, Chris Thile, Punch Brothers, and Paul Simon, for whom he arranged “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, heard throughout Simon’s farewell tour this year. As a composer, he has been commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Carnegie Hall, A Far Cry, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. For the Oregon Symphony, he wrote emergency shelter intake form, a nearly hour-long oratorio confronting the resurgence of deep poverty in America, and in particular, the national crises of housing insecurity and homelessness. That work premiered in May of 2018 and will be recorded for future release later this year. Other orchestral highlights have included solo appearances with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and The Knights, with whom Gabriel recorded his orchestral song cycle Crane Palimpsest, following a performance at Tanglewood’s Ozawa Hall.
An avid theater artist, Kahane has appeared twice at the BAM Next Wave Festival, in 2014 with the critically-lauded staged version of The Ambassador, directed by Tony-winner John Tiffany; and returning in 2017 with 8980: Book of Travelers, directed by Daniel Fish. He is also the composer-lyricist of the musical February House, which premiered in 2012 at the Public Theater. This fall, he makes his Broadway debut with an original score for Kenneth Lonergan's The Waverly Gallery, starring Elaine May, Lucas Hedges, Michael Cera, and Joan Allen.
A graduate of Brown University and two-time MacDowell Colony fellow, Gabriel lives in Brooklyn, NY.