2019 was a remarkable year. With the incredible support of Ashley Wey and Louis Rudner, we delved into the work of Nina Simone and our tribute show in April was well received. I was grateful to have studied everything from 400 years of the slave trade, to Eunice Waymon’s childhood, to her courage in writing incredible civil rights songs, so that the messages could be delivered as she meant them to be delivered. Her dedication to what’s important will resonate with me forever.
Then the live recording version with Order of Canada musician Phil Dwyer took place in May, where the acoustics of the Church of the Advent let the music soar, and the audience was close and intimate…it was a special and memorable time. Phil is a delight to work with, and the video results will be online eventually!
Pedalling north in June offered opportunities for: discovering incredible beauty in the natural state of our B.C. forests; receiving thought-provoking history lessons from exhibits and conversations regarding the colonization of Canada; true reconciliation by stopping and listening to other’s stories; building courage in intense scenarios; making international friendships; and finding joy in new things, including my first encounter with a bear. You can read my cycle-tour journal, Northerly B.C. for a Change, at http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/lorraine0619
Songroots was a game-changing week-long vocalists’ workshop in July, on remote Gambier Island, a wee hop from Horseshoe Bay. Working with mentors Michael Creber, Jennifer Scott, Coco Love Alcorn, Karla Mundy, Dawn Pemberton, Brian Tate, not to mention the incredible love and support from 100 other singers, in the coolest natural setting ever! ‘Twas blissful, and a new song, Gambier Island, sprouted from me.
Seeming a natural fit after Gambier Island, I was delighted when Michael Creber agreed to perform together for the September show at Hermann’s Jazz Club, joined by bassist Ken Lister and drummer Kelby MacNayr. Michael has worked with the likes of K.D. Lang, Andrea Bocelli and others, and produces regularly for movies and orchestras. To experience his calibre of professionalism, musicianship, and good humour and support throughout the event was an honour indeed. Brian Tate was invited to sing a few tunes to warm applause, and so we impulsively did a duet for “On a Clear Day”, which took on the improvisational qualities from Gambier. Both men commented that the audience was extremely connected to our work, with rapt attention and appreciation. There is much that makes me grateful.
A big thank you to everyone that came out for the inaugural Cozy Winter’s Night that happened on Monday, December 23rd, 2019, at Hermann’s Jazz Club. Pianist Ashley Wey, bassist Louis Rudner, drummer Damian Graham and I were delighted and honoured to play to a full house of energetic, appreciative and smiling audience members. It was cozy indeed! In addition, guest singers Hinatinyis Cote, Colleen Alstad and Patricia Manly helped to make the season bright. CD sales proceeds were sent to the Wet’suwet’en peoples in solidarity; thanks everyone for your support. Asking the crowd if we should do it again next year, there was a rousing, unanimous “Yes!”
Then it was my birthday, Christmas, visits with family, lots of fun and good musical inspiration over New Years, a big bike ride with the Randonneurs on New Year’s day, and here we are, already mid-month! I don’t make resolutions at the turn of the year, but have noticed mindful shifts of energy toward the things that will matter for 2020 and beyond.
Heart and mind are beating quietly, listening to the hum of voices from many sides. Generally speaking, folks want a clean and vibrant healthy future for our planet and her living beings, and are willing to do what’s necessary to transition to that state of bliss. Some others are concerned about their livelihood and can’t see beyond the present setting to envision brighter choices. Then, a few others are fixated on accumulating wealth and power, disregarding how it impacts others, unaware that “you can’t take it with you”. I find the conundrum daunting: not wanting to offend others, but knowing that messages must be released. I flow from anger to despair, outrage to compassion, and hope that when the moment is right, the lyrics that can be the light will flow. Listening to Joni the other night, she sang so beautifully: “We are stardust. We are golden. And we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”. I wish health and happiness to you and yours, throughout 2020 and beyond.