Although Orenda Fink made her first splash as the songwriting partner of Maria Taylor, she also became a respected bandleader and solo musician in her own right, drawing upon everything from Haitian folk music to pop/rock in the process. Fink and Taylor first launched their partnership as students at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, which led to the formation of Little Red Rocket several years later. When that group disbanded after two albums -- 1997's Who Did You Pay and 2000's It's in the Sound -- due to the dust-up of Geffen Records' merger with Universal Music Group, the two decamped to Athens, GA, and formed the sulky pop duo Azure Ray. While working to get Azure Ray off the ground, the musicians were also recruited to join Now It's Overhead, which brought them to the attention of that band's label -- Saddle Creek -- as well as its co-founder Conor Oberst. In 2001, both Azure Ray and Now It's Overhead released debut records, and Taylor and Fink took up full-time residence in Omaha -- Saddle Creek's home base -- one year later. A second Azure Ray release, Burn and Shiver, followed before 2002 was up. The pair's third album, 2003's Hold on Love, brought indie scene approval on the merits of the singles "The Drinks We Drank Last Night" and "New Resolution." Meanwhile, Now It's Overhead released another album in 2004 amid heavy touring. Fink remained active outside of her partnership with Maria Taylor by working with acts like Moby, Bright Eyes, and Japancakes. Accordingly, when Azure Ray split up in 2004, she wasted little time involving herself with other projects, even forming two Saddle Creek bands (O+S and Art in Manila) and releasing material with both. Moreover, she struck out on her own as a solo artist, drawing upon her travels in India, Cambodia, and Haiti to shape the sounds of 2005's Invisible Ones. A second solo effort, the stripped-down Ask the Night, followed in 2009. Later that year, Fink reunited with Taylor for another Azure Ray tour, and the pair released a new album, Drawing Down the Moon, in fall 2010. ~ Andrew Leahey & Tammy La Gorce
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