Ari Tibi on Finding “Shelter” and Leading the Singer-Songwriter Renaissance

Original photo Ari sent

We’ve found the Emmylou Harris of the 2020s: L.A.-based singer-songwriter Ari Tibi. Her magical voice has an uplifting quality, like she’s beckoning us to be true to ourselves and compassionate to each other.

When you’ve had your fill of glitch-pop and gimmicky songs, listen to Ari’s “Shelter.” It’s a beautiful song that illuminates and inspires, just like the best work of Joni and Dylan. We all need a place to rest and heal – whether we call it God, love, nature or a higher power.

If you’ve had all you can take on your own

Come take what’s mine

Take yourself off your mind

Don’t take on tomorrow alone

Let go my child

Shelter here for a while

Ari is much more than a “folk” artist. Her vocal on the roots/bluesy “Walk” has exceptional power. And don’t miss her video for “Taurus & A Leo,” which features Ari in a duet with herself (with one Ari sporting a painted-on moustache).

Anyone who thinks that there will never be another golden age for singer-songwriters has never listened to Ari Tibi. Her work is every bit as amazing as the best of Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.

“Shelter” is such a lovely song…no digital gimmicks, just a beautiful melody and lyric that pull the listener in. What’s the story behind that song?

“Let go and you’ll be more than you ever thought of being” – Janis Joplin

Thank you so much!! The song means the world to me, it feels more like a gift than any other song I’ve written. 

That quote was the first sort of monument that George Krikes (“Shelter” co-writer) and I looked to when writing this song. It was just a couple weeks into the pandemic and about a month and a half since I had made the decision to get completely sober. I was having a hard time coping at that time in my life; there were a lot of changes personally, professionally, and of course globally happening around me that not only I couldn’t seem to control but that also shook my foundation. It was becoming clear that I needed to just let go; to stop trying to control the changes around me and surrender to them instead. I felt kind of desperate for some kind of guidance but there’s no rule book. Only life. I wasn’t raised with a religion so I came up with my own higher power (the ocean) to rely on. This song is a letter from that higher power to myself, saying hold on, kid. It’s gonna be okay. 

About a week or so after writing this song with George, I moved in with my grandmother to take care of her and “shelter in place.” I sang to her every night and ‘Shelter’ was her favorite. I thought I was going to live there with her for years, but she had a stroke on May 27th and passed a couple days later. The recording you hear at the beginning of the song was taken during dinner time on the 27th. I just hit record on my phone and let it run thru bedtime; I even got her singing to me on the recording (it was usually the other way around). I had zero clue it would be the last night but that recording and those moments with her are forever precious.

You’re an accomplished guitarist and banjo player. What other instruments do you play?

Thank you! Piano, ukulele, harmonica, a teeny bit of bongo, and I use a harmony / loop pedal. 

Who are your favorite folk and Americana artists (either current or from the past)?

Brandie Carlile, Cam, Yola, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Maren Morris, Ingrid Andress, Dan & Shay, Bob Dylan, Courtney Marie Andrews, Avett Brothers.

Is the LGBTQ+ community well-represented in the L.A. folk revival scene?

To my knowledge, not yet. Brandi Carlile and Lily Rose are certainly trailblazers, but my favorite queer folk artists are still relatively lesser known. A few to absolutely binge and keep on your radar are Rett Madison, Jack Scott, Glory Daze, Abby Posner, and Lauren Ruth Ward. 

What does the rest of 2022 look like for you?

These days I’m pitching my songs to other artists and for licensing in TV/film. I’m sure I’ll release soon, but for now the focus is on the writing and performing and it is so fulfilling!


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