These are times of fundamental adjustment for all of us, and artists of all kinds are no exception. Here in Canada, we're very fortunate that benefits have been extended to self-employed folks. But things remain precarious as we wait for all that to roll out, focus on day-to-day survival, find the glowing, hopeful opportunities hidden amongst the upheaval, and figure out how to plan for a future that may not go back to "normal" for a long time. Some of you have expressed a very kind and thoughtful interest in donating a bit of money to your favourite artists to help us through this immediate period of uncertainty. If you'd like to offer something here, just click the wee "donate" button below, and know that you have my deepest love and gratitude. Sending love to you and yours!
“Dana Wylie is a bright light from the great west...her singing is brimming with soul and songs and their great arrangements are unique and strong... Her ideas are elegant and classic—but also unbound by genre...I can’t wait to hear her again ”
— Colin Linden
Welcome to the online home of singer, songwriter, musician, writer, mother, lover and pal Dana Wylie. Here's a promise: Dana's crystal clear voice will cut straight through to your heart, and just to make it a fair deal, her songs will give you a direct route into hers. This is music that won't bullshit you, but it will move you.
A Capella Mondays: because songs are for singing!
Back in the pre-Covid-19 world of a few weeks ago, I started something here in Edmonton called the Monday Legislature Sing-In. The idea was to gather a group of singers together once a week at noon to sing songs at the Legislative Building – like, literally and transitively, to stand facing the building and sing AT it – to empower ourselves and to use our voices in protest of the relentless attacks on our most vital infrastructures and institutions by the United Conservative Party’s provincial government, and to hopefully annoy some of them while we were at it.
But we only got one of these Sing-Ins in before the virus hit Alberta, and we had to call it off.
Then, a few days ago when I went to my daughter’s school to pick up her lesson books and other materials, I ran into another parent who is a fantastic singer and professional actor. And she bemoaned to me the fact that she doesn’t play an instrument, because all she wants to do in the wake of all this upheaval is sing, but she isn’t able to accompany herself. I thought about this a lot after I got home, because I also find that I have the almost-constant urge to sing these days. And if she does and I do, maybe lots of other folks do too. So I thought about making some simple instructional videos on how to chord along on the piano to some easy, classic songs, for those with a yen. But I didn’t get very far with this idea. Because first of all, who has time to do that with two kids at home ALL DAY, EVERY DAY? And secondly, you don’t really need an instrument to sing. You ARE the instrument. Hell, according to the Anglo-American folk tradition, singing unaccompanied is the only proper way to do it.
But it’s true that not all songs are as good for singing a capella as others. So, as an offering to anyone anyone out there who’s dying to sing and doesn’t know what to sing, I’m going to post a video of me singing an unaccompanied song once a week. And I’m going to do it Mondays at noon, so that it also keeps the spirit of the Sing-In alive. (They won’t always be protest songs. But sometimes they will be.) And then you can learn it yourself if you like!
To see all the vids that are up so far, click here.
And if you are inspired to do some unaccompanied singing, of these songs or any others, post 'em and send me a link. I wanna see!
The Waning of the Year
This is the time of year when the veil between worlds is thinnest, so it is said, and maybe that’s why everything feels ephemeral and impermanent in the fall. It is the most transitional of the seasons, especially following on the heels of summer, shining and blindly confident in its supremacy despite the briefness of its reign. Fall knows it is there simply to lead us into the darkness. And we follow, entranced. And if we embrace - surrender to - that quiet journey into the dark, can we indeed lift that veil and access the world of spirit, of our ancestors? Can we find them in ourselves and feel the assurance of their hard-earned wisdom, and feel also the pain and grief of the wounds they need our help to heal?
It is from this rich and shadowy place that I am finishing off the first draft of a new show I’m writing, a show that will combine music and theatre, and that both chronicles and embodies my own attempt to lift the veil on my maternal ancestral line, so that my own children might grow up with a sense of rootedness and belonging. It sounds heavy, maybe, though it’s really not - as always, I’m striving for depth more than weight - and it’ll have some yuks too! I’ve just confirmed that the show will debut in Edmonton in Summer 2020, so keep your ears open. I’m already very excited to share this work with the world.
A New Baby, and a CFMA nod
On Thursday September 20th, I went on Facebook to post on our neighbourhood page about my cat who had just gone missing, and the first thing I saw was a post from my pal Scott Cook congratulating me on my nomination for a Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Singer of the Year. It was a crazy moment; I didn't know how to feel! (I also received a rejection about a grant application that day, so it was a day of contrasts and a good reminder to keep things in perspective and stay true to the path through the ups and downs.) The following night I went into labour, and at 7:12 am on Saturday September 22nd Grayson Autumn Blackie was born in our living room, just as the sky started to illuminate a beautiful snowfall that made the first day of fall look more like Christmas morning. What a bounty, a couple of days before the harvest moon.
So I'm taking a bit of time off from gigging – though I'll take a hiatus from the hiatus to perform at the CFMA ceremony in Calgary on November 30th! – but do check the SHOWS page to see what's brewing so far for next year. Happy Fall! Wishing bounty and abundance to everyone!
Summer Shows in Alberta
It's a busy summer of festival shows, house shows, and a few other things, all over Alberta. Hope to see lots of you out and about. I'm having a baby at the end of September, so after the summer tapers off that'll be it for me! At least for a while... The 2019 calendar is filling up with some exciting shows (including Women of Folkways, with Maria Dunn and Kaia Kater – always my favourite), a Home Routes tour in BC, the debut of a new show I'm developing featuring the songs of legendary French singer Edith Piaf, work on a new album, and a trip to the UK. But let me not get ahead of myself. Hope to see you sometime this summer!