This week may mark a turning point (again) into a more social-justice oriented type of show (not that it wasn’t already).
Guest 1: Amy Ray
Guest 2: John Tackaberry
Music: Alexz Johnson
Amy Ray is one half of the iconic music duo “The Indigo Girls“. The interview was the occasion of the girls playing at the Burnaby Blues Festival. In addition to their 13th album “Beauty Queen Sister”, which is definitely worth a listen, Ray is also releasing her 5th solo album. In addition, we talked about her long history of activism – mainly in LGBTQ rights, Native American causes, and environmental awareness, as well as a commitment to low-power broadcasting.
Ray’s background is very interesting – she holds degrees in English and religion, and once played Jesus in a punk-rock revival of Jesus Christ Superstar (in which bandmate Emily Sailers played Mary Magdalene) in a local Atlanta production. Religion, something she always been surrounded by – Sailers’ father is a progessive theology professor – comes out a lot in her music songwriting (in the way she approaches music). However, she does not claim to be super-religious.
Ray chuckles a bit at the idea of being considered a folk pioneer, especially since folk music has changed so much over the years. Sure, there are the politically-motivated singers like Billy Bragg, but there are also more contemporary crossover artists (Taylor Swift comes to mind). Folk says Ray, cannot be defined or pigeonholed. Also interesting among duos is that her and Sailers rarely ever write songs together and merely collaborate to record and perform songs that each other have written.
As if all this weren’t enough, she has her own record label – Daemon Records – which is run as a non-profit; all the money made goes to creating albums for other artists who may not otherwise have an opportunity. As well, in 1993, she co-founded with Sailers and Winona LaDuke a chairty called “Honor the Earth” which creates awareness and support for Native [American] environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native [American] communities. Honor the Earth develops these resources by using music, the arts, the media, and indigenous wisdom to ask people to recognize our joint dependency on the Earth and be a voice for those not heard.”
Both Amy Ray’s solo album and Beauty Queen Sister are available for purchase and download.
John Tackaberry is the media spokesman for Amnesty International Canada. He came on to specifically talk about the girls from Pussy Riot. At the time of the interview, the verdict had not yet been handed down. He explains why Amnesty views the trio as prisoners of conscience, as well as the severe problems with Russia’s political system, due to, among the other factors, the lack of separation between church and state.
It is important to note that while their “punk prayer” was staged in a church, their protest had nothing whatsoever with the orthodoxy, but rather was more of a protest against Vladimir Putin as well as the church’s support of his policies. With the three women ultimately receiving two years for hooliganism, this is an issue that will be in the news for quite some time. I am hopeful that I will be able to do a follow-up in the near future.
Alexz Johnson is a singer-songwriter and actress originally from Vancouver and now based in Brooklyn, New York. While she got her start playing Jude Harrison on TV’s “Instant Star”, followed by the role of Erin the goth in Final Destination 3 – where she killed by a nail gun – lately she has been focusing on her music career. Her latest effort is five-song EP entitled “Skipping Stone”. An interesting note: she started a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise money for a tour; she reached her goal in 24 hours and had accumulated $ 50 000 in just three days. She has also completed to music videos – one for “Skipping Stone” and more recently, one for “Walking” released in July. It is an album worth checking out.
For the full show listen here: http://www.cjsf.ca/pguide/rss.php?ID=250
To order “Beauty Queen Sister”: http://www.indigogirls.com/home.html
To see the stunt that got Pussy Riot jailed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALS92big4TY
Next week on the show: Milo Shandel, Samuel Melamed. Music: Toby