ListN Up: Annika Socolofsky (November 6, 2020)

ListN Up is a series of weekly artist-curated playlists. Born from a desire to keep artists sharing and connected during times of isolation, ListN Up offers an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Described as “unbearably moving” (Gramophone) and “just the right balance between edgy precision and freewheeling exuberance” (The Guardian), composer-vocalist Annika Socolofsky’s music erupts from the embodied power of the human voice and is communicated through mediums ranging from orchestral and operatic works to viscerally joyous Dolly Parton covers. She writes extensively for her own voice, including composing a growing repertoire of “feminist rager-lullabies” titled Don’t say a word, which serves to confront centuries of damaging lessons taught to young children by retelling old lullaby texts for a new, queer era. Dr. Socolofsky holds her PhD in Composition from Princeton University and is Assistant Professor of Composition at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Hi! My name is Annika Socolofsky and I’m a composer-vocalist from the US Midwest. This playlist features composers who sing. I think there’s something truly spectacular that happens when a composer performs their own music. Instead of listening to someone tell another person’s story, instead of listening to text being set, we’re actually hearing the composer sing straight from the heart, straight from the soul. And that sort of emotional honesty and directness is something that’s really kept me going through isolation and I hope these songs can do the same for you.

“River” by Hope Littwin

There’s something about this song that completely freezes me in place. This song hits me most deeply at moments of transition in my life, when I need grounding.

“Horror in Black and White” by Leila Adu

I’m completely in awe of how effortlessly Leila navigates the colors and corners of her voice in this track, from sassy and playful to powerful and strained. The entire EP is stunning, but this song in particular hits deep.

“Lo-Re-Lei” by Dai Wei with Zorá Quartet

Wei, we need to sing together! I simply don’t know how that hasn’t happened yet! Ok, but seriously check out the raw power of her voice and how spectacularly it basks in the worlds of color she creates around herself. I could sit in this piece all day (and have).

“Song for the Lichen” by Grey Grant

I’ve had the immense joy of singing Grey’s music, but honestly nothing compares to hearing her sing her own music. Whether she’s belting straight from the heart or gently rocking through the depths of numbness, I am head over heels for Grey’s voice, music, and person.

“Rose Marie” by Leyla McCalla (feat. Rhiannon Giddens)

I first encountered Leyla’s music on the August Bang on a Can Marathon and have been bingeing her discography ever since. I just love the unbridled joy of this song and this beautiful arrangement (and of course those perfectly blended harmonies with Rhiannon Giddens)!

“Hollow” by Hope Littwin

My tastes might be predictable, but I cannot resist an a cappella voice wading through the stark emptiness of studio silence.

“Life As You Envision” by Jen Shyu

The way Jen can shape a phrase, pulling it straight from the gut, only to twist it into an oblivion of head voice that trails off into the distance–I’m just left a puddle on the floor. Jen, you have one of my absolute favorite voices on the planet and I really hope to meet you one day!

“Artístico (Artistic)” by Clarice Assad and Sergio Assad

From the second Clarice enters, I’m just totally transported by the gentle agility of her voice. This is a lay-on-the-floor-in-total-darkness-and-just-take-it-all-in kind of sound bath.

“Shy one, sweet one” by Annika Socolofsky with Latitude 49

And lastly, a little song from my heart. A song for all the shy, terrified, queer kids out there learning to channel that fire they’re told they shouldn’t have.


UNEVEN MEASURES is a series dedicated to amplifying today’s women, trans, and nonbinary artists on the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment leading up to the 2020 presidential election. This series is made possible through a generous grant from The Elizabeth & Michel Sorel Charitable Organization Inc. to the American Composers Forum and their partnership with I CARE IF YOU LISTEN. The Sorel Organization is committed to supporting gender equity in music and addressing systemic inequities by providing greater visibility for women musicians from underrepresented communities.

I CARE IF YOU LISTEN is a program of the American Composers Forum, funded with generous donor and institutional support. A gift to ACF helps support the work of ICIYL. Editorial decisions are made at the sole discretion of the editor-in-chief. For more on ACF, visit the “At ACF” section or