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event • Performances

Tireless Sacred Work: Performance by and Conversation with Ezra Furman

Portrait of Ezra Furman
Photo by Tonje Thilesen

Singer, songwriter, musician, and critic Ezra Furman—“the most compelling live act you can see right now,” according to the Guardian—will perform and open Harvard Radcliffe Institute's “Minding the Gap: Gender and the Mental Health Crisis” conference. Her anthem-ballads are simultaneously transgressive and reflective, folk and art rock.

Furman has spoken about and advocated extensively for mental health. She explores in her music themes of identity and anxiety, angst and fearlessness.

Following her performance, Furman will engage in conversation about music, gender, and mental health with discussant William Cheng, 2022–2023 Rita E. Hauser Fellow at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and professor of music at Dartmouth College.

Harvard Radcliffe Institute gratefully acknowledges the Perrin Moorhead Grayson and Bruns Grayson Dean’s Leadership Fund for Academic Ventures, which is supporting this event.

See "Minding the Gap: Gender and the Mental Health Crisis” for event information on the full-day conference on Friday, April 28, 2023.


Ezra Furman is a singer and songwriter originally from Chicago, now based in Boston. Her music resists classification but reflects, in her unique way, elements of rock, folk, punk, and blues. As she has noted, “One of my goals in making music is to make the world seem bigger, and life seem larger.”

Furman’s career began as a student at Tufts University when she and friends formed in 2006 the band Ezra Furman and the Harpoons. After the band broke up in 2011, she recorded and toured as a solo artist and with a subsequent band, Ezra Furman and the Boy-Friends, which reformed as The Visions in 2017. Over the course of her career, her albums have included Banging Down the Doors (2007), Inside the Human Body (2008), Mysterious Power (2011), The Year of No Returning (2012), Day of the Dog (2013), Perpetual Motion People (2015), Transangelic Exodus (2018), Twelve Nudes (2019), and All of Us Flames (2022). Bloomsbury Academic published Furman’s book-length commentary, Lou Reed’s Transformer, in 2018 as part of its acclaimed 33 1/3 series, and in 2019 she provided the soundtrack for the Netflix series Sex Education.

Of her recent album, All of Us Flames, Furman has said: “This is a first person plural album. It's a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews."

Event Video

Play video of Tireless Sacred Work: Performance by and Conversation with Ezra Furman


  • Carol J. Oja, director of the humanities program, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; and William Powell Mason Professor of Music, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Performance and Conversation

  • Ezra Furman, singer, songwriter, musician, and critic
  • Discussant: William Cheng, 2022–2023 Rita E. Hauser Fellow, Harvard Radcliffe Institute; professor of music, Dartmouth College

Closing Remarks

  • Carol J. Oja

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