I'm about to hit the road in support of my seventh release, From Far Away. Making music has been my business for nearly two decades. Most people don't consider art a "job", but artists know it is. I've supported myself as an entrepreneur in a rapidly changing field since 1997. I've started late, by industry standards, or at least that is what I'm trained to believe, as a female in this business. Then again I feel young, and full of hope.
I'm booked to play part of the David Suzuki Blue Dot Tour initiative. The Blue Dot Tour is a call to action from the stage. Judging by the amount of tickets selling for each city (Victoria, B.C. sold out in less than a week), Canadians share a common concern for the health of our planet. This is very encouraging.
I play the Ottawa show October 17 and the Victoria, B.C. on November 7th. These shows are part of my album release tour; an album that I am proud of. I made it almost exclusively in my own home, so it reflects private moments that are unfiltered by other studio technicians. In the music business, 95 per cent of people running things (in studios) are men. Good men, lots of them. But nonetheless, as a woman, I tend to feel outnumbered in studios, and the effort to maintain self-esteem when outnumbered by gender imbalance drains creative output.
My last album, Kiss It, went nowhere, through a myriad of circumstances, primarily the wrong team, the wrong vibe, and poor choices all around on my part. I'm not ashamed to give From Far Away to people. With Kiss It, I had my naked butt on the cover, after a swim, in my 80-year-old family log cabin. It seemed like a good idea at the time of creation to be revealed, fresh after a swim, naked, how our family (and many families) tend to swim, in a protective and vulnerable stance for the protection of WATER. I was trying to make an image that represents our vulnerability as a species, naked, unaffected, but ready to fight for water. I held my grandfather's rifle, pointed at the lake. My brothers and I learned to shoot with that gun. The statement meant, "I am here, watching, and ready to fight for you, Lake Huron." For anyone who has been watching Lake Huron water levels, the St. Clair river was dredged many decades ago, and the dredging is too deep, allowing for too much fresh water to head south, and too many wetlands are drying up. Needless to say, my attempt at making a strong water protection statement failed, and I was easy fodder for internet bashing. The wind was taken out of my sails when several handfuls of women elected to very publicly, and victoriously, shamed me for the album cover.
THIS album is different than Kiss It. THIS album is brightly coloured art that looks like -- and represents -- a patchwork of styles and genres, with "Kinnie Starr" stamped on it. I'm really happy with the collection of songs. This album feels very open and free. From Far Away is literally a quilt, visually and sonically. It's art-hop. Poetry-hop. And most importantly, it's being released as part of The Blue Dot Tour. DAVID SUZUKI'S BLUE DOT TOUR. I get to be a part of The Blue Dot Tour!!! (*jumping up and down with joy*)
I've been writing about water, the natural world, unity, conflict resolution, and family since I started making music. I write about swimming nude in lakes (heathen! slut!), and about lakes in general. I write about loons, clouds, and finding feathers in the streets as guidance. I write about crows gathering in murders, leading me towards strength. I write about storms, and how they awaken in us our primal nature, our humility:
"I will be kinder, more forgiving and more humble. More forgiving of myself as well, because I too am fumbling as I stumble to the eye of the storm and then I'm naked. I surrender my strength because I am so small and irrelevant. The storm swings hard and I am open to her sweetening. This storm is my greatest grandmother, she is my truth teller." - Kinnie Starr, Water In Me, circa 1999
Water is on my mind a lot, period. How can it not be? Our aquifers are running dry in developed and developing nations. Our tar sands are a global wound, depleting fresh water at an alarming rate. Our rivers are being redirected and tapped for big business. Read about it in Maude Barlow's books if you think I'm making it up. We are in trouble, and our kids and grand kids are the ones who will suffer. All these years, all these songs, and I still don't feel like I have written what I want to write about our planet, our families, our responsibilities. I feel like I can never do enough towards real social change, and that I am in an industry with a huge carbon footprint. I'm torn, like any sentient person. I am still trying, though. Who will save our waters? I sing about it plaintively on this new record, but I don't have the answer.
In Simcoe County, where part of my family lives, the purest water in the world has been successfully protected by a collective effort from the church, activists, scientists and indigenous people. Site 41, as it is known, is an example of otherwise disparate groups coming together to make sure municipal waste did not get piled up on top of the Alliston aquifer that stretches from Georgian Bay to the Oak Ridges Moraine. This was a 27-year battle, and was won in 2010, and symbolizes what can happen when divergent groups come together with a single focus -- to protect fresh water.
As a musician with a conscience, concern for people, for our planet and for the well-being of my loved ones and of those I do not know as well, I am really looking forward to being at two Blue Dot Tour shows. What it means, to play Blue Dot shows, is to be illuminated by the company that I will be keeping. That's some powerful stuff to be among the hundreds of speakers, artists, scientists and activists who are raising awareness around the urgency of climate change and clean air and water for all.
Depending on which source you reference, 300,000 - 400,000 people marched in NYC for Climate Change on September 21st of this year. That's a huge rally for North Americans. We know we are at a precipice, and that decision making is urgent. We know our government here is Canada does not have an agenda to protect the environment. We know we need more immediate measures than meetings about meetings, red tape, meetings, more meetings, and empty promises. We need global, consecutive, immediate, aggressive new laws to tax the shit out of big business TODAY.
I can't wait to sing for David Suzuki's supporters, and like minded people, and to be lit up by my contemporaries who care for our planet. We only have one. Let's take care of her.
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