We’ve always been interested in how the Brontës and their works continue to inspire artists all over the world. It’s not only writers we’re talking about. The Brontë sisters still have a powerful impact on all kinds of arts, and Charlie Rahu is an example of what happens when music meets the Brontës in 2021. Charlie Rauh is a fantastic guitarist and composer based in New York, who takes inspiration from folk lullabies, plainchant, and the imagery of various poets for his music. It goes without saying that our favourite writers are among those poets, and in Charlie’s music there’s a touching Brontë vibe that, once heard, can never be forgotten.
Charlie, how did you get the idea of finding inspiration in poetry?
I love the way a poem or story creates imagery, provokes the emotions, and leaves a lasting impression on a reader. As much as I of course love music, I take deeper creative influence from what I read, and from learning about the authors whom I admire. Writing music inspired by the literature that I love allows me to compose in a way that feels more honest to me. Rather than drawing from guitar based music or musically technical influences, I can channel a more distilled and personal source.
Two of your albums, The Bluebell (2020) and The Silent Current From Within (2021), were inspired by Anne and Emily’s poems. What kind of influence do the Brontës have on your music and what do you like about their poetry?
The Brontës (specifically with their poetry) all have a singular way of magnifying personal thoughts and feelings with depth and conviction. I love the way poems like Emily’s “Plead for Me”, or Anne’s “The Narrow Way” take form through both vulnerability and certainty. I hope to compose music that comes from a similar place.
Both the above-mentioned albums are part of two separate art projects created in collaboration with your siblings (a family of artists working together, just like the Brontës!). What’s the idea behind the 2021 project based on your The Silent Current From Within?
I composed the music for The Silent Current From Within inspired by Anne Brontë, Anne Carson, and my sister Christina Rauh Fishburne. I then approached Christina and our brother Chris about collaborating for a special accompanying art project. Together we devised the idea that: Chris would write a folktale inspired by my music, and Christina would then create a map which details the landscape of the story. The concept being that an edition of maps/stories would be available to read and follow as you listen to the music.
The title of your new album The Silent Current From Within, comes from Anne Brontë’s poem “If This Be All”. Why have you chosen that poem?
I wrote all of this music Spring of 2020, when things were really bad in NYC with the pandemic, so all of it is influenced by what I was reading at the time for personal and creative inspiration. Anne’s “If This Be All” was a poem I had kept coming back to during that time for a few reasons. The declarations of uncertainty, patience, fear, acceptance, and ultimately of faith are so powerful and moving. I am greatly inspired by Anne’s understanding that there is no value in performative strength. Rather, true strength is rooted in faith. I chose to title the EP “The Silent Current From Within” after the line in the poem : “Yet powerless to quell/The silent current from within/The outward torrent’s swell”. For me, this resonates as the acknowledgement that stoic persistence rooted in the self will always disintegrate into a cry for help. Unless the self is protected by something indestructible and eternal.
Thank you Charlie for showing us that whenever talent meets the Brontës, some kind of magic happens! It was lovely talking to you and we can’t wait to know what comes next.
To learn more about Charlie Rauh and listen to his amazing music check out these websites: