As you may already know, I’ve been a touring musician for most of my adult life and a performer for my whole life. I was courted by Warner and Sony (before it merged with BMG) back in the early 2000′s and then eventually signed to Rounder Records. This was all during a time when the industry had very little prophetic awareness about the shifting sands of the business of music (and yes, music is a business… if you have inventory, you have a business). Just when I had convinced the producer of Coldplay’s first three records to fly to Canada and make a record with me, I got the news that my project wouldn’t be funded by my label, as I had thought it would be. Its not to say anything bad about the label because frankly, I would have made the same decision. A lot of more solidified female roots acts were being dropped from the major labels at the time and heading straight to roots labels. Working with these artists meant a guaranteed prediction of sales and no pesky development time or costs. The industry was absolutely having to make sparse, fiscally responsible (not necessarily forward-thinking) decisions.
I went ahead and made my record with Ken Nelson anyway. It cost me my arm and my leg… not because Ken was expensive (he was a bloody bargain for that kind of genius!) but because I went all out on it. It is a beautiful product that to this day I don’t regret having made. What I learned about sound engineering alone was worth it, let alone learning how to executive produce a large project and experience that kind of world-class artistic fulfillment.
There were many variables that brought me to the decision to go off the road for awhile. Behind the scenes, the ducks didn’t line up as had hoped for Lions and Werewolves and I was also taking a hit in my personal life. The project came out on EMI through a little label called Blue Lily Records and recently, I have had the rights to it sent back to me. EMI was fantastic to work with and I am still friends with all of them.
Overall, I’ve lived a lifetime, already having toured with my heroes and having put on hundreds of thousands of miles as a touring musician! I’ve been on the rooftops of Los Angeles hotels and I’ve slept in my car on the side of a motorway in England covered in my own t-shirt merchandise to keep me warm. I’ve been sponsored by Volkswagen, Trek, Gibson, Sennheiser and Bono and Ali Hewson’s couture clothing company Edun. I’ve also slept slumped over my guitar, the equivalent of a month of nights at airports, waiting for a connecting flight. I’ve had a private show, performed just for me by four of the top Stomp dancers outside a pub in Brighton. I’ve hiked amongst wild Welsh ponies in Snowdonia after headlining a show. I’ve played in front of massive crowds. I’ve seen the beautiful side of music and the ugly side, and sometimes at the same time!
It wasn’t glamourous. Even the glamourous parts weren’t glamourous! But I am happy to have been there.
In my time of constant touring, I had about a hundred rules for myself around food and drink. I only drank beer when in Ireland for instance (and luckily toured there enough times to sink a few pints!) I exercised like the medieval devil was after me. And food was a restricted experience. I still thought I looked overweight in my music videos. I put so much pressure on myself about how I looked, about how successful I would be, and no one, but a precious few, ever knew.
In 2010, during my “down time” when I was struggling with personal loss and great confusion about how driven I had been as an artist, I quit writing songs. I could hardly pick up my guitar unless it was just for fun. Then in August of 2010, I exploded with songwriting again and wrote my record Hymns from the Desert.
In 2011, I drove from Newfoundland to New Orleans over the span of 5 months in search of back road music. And of course, with me being me, it couldn’t just be a small project… my ultimate goal was that I wanted to bolster small to medium sized music venues by creating a resource for music-loving travelers. I created a pretty vast data base of great live music finds and then ran out of steam. I needed a team of people to finish that part of the project off.
On a personal level, it was the trip I needed to take to process my twenties! I fell in love with music again, only this time with what one of my heroes, Richard Rohr, calls a “second naivete”; meaning: you can never go back to the wide-eyed ways of childhood, but you can approach something with hope and vulnerability even though it has hurt you before.
On that trip, for personal reasons, I decided to move to Edmonton, Alberta where I live currently and am very happy.
I am now the veteran songwriting instructor for the School of Song and I am working on a recording that will be encased in a memoir about my music pilgrimage. This is due in October 2012!
I don’t know if you’ve followed my career or are just beginning to, but don’t expect to see me at a local bar when I am promoting this upcoming project. I plan to visit festivals and do house concerts. If you want to schedule me to do a house concert, I would love to chat! I did a Home Routes tour in April and was converted over to the house concert concept (I was a reluctant believer at first).
This is my story as I tell it today. Tomorrow it might have different memories. Like I said, I’ve lived a lifetime already. Does that mean I have RRSP’s? No. But it does mean I’ve learned that taking a risk doesn’t kill you!
Here’s to the future! I am exploding with creativity… the kind that is informed by experience. My favourite! Now I can honestly say… I am who I am! When an artist can get to that point, they have learned how to turn their wounds into balm and their scars into great beauty.