My friend recently decided to observe the fasting of Ramadan and wondered if I might help with the odd meal at the end of each day. Instead I offered to join him, knowing community support and inspiration is important when embarking on a disciplined, enlightened journey. A wonderful time of transformation ensued, as we were gifted with knowing each other from a more current and authentic place. I became clearer and better connected to myself, those around me, and the suffering in this world… experiencing Ramadan (fasting of both food and water Sunrise to Sunset) informed me – and through this practice I observed myself becoming a more honest artist.
This came on the heels of a St. Mary’s Cathedral Together Calgary series I had recently put on, of ten vocal/cello meditative improvisation sessions, each expressed from a ‘place of emptiness’ through listening to those who shared the time and space. My writing and instrumental technique flourished. The things that challenge us, define us and so define our art.
How remarkable that Kolbe Times asked me to write a piece on the transformative power of music and creation, and do so through my connection to Jane Siberry.
During my tumultous teens, artist Jane Siberry represented strength, freedom of creativity, and uniqueness. When I was told to quit singing /songwriting (not the producer’s idea of what would sell), and when later dealing with divorce, raising children, and how all these factors challenge an artist’s ispiration, output, and belief – Jane Siberry was a lifeline.
In earlier years her individuality encouraged me to keep believing – She is prolific, dedicated and fearless. Jane Siberry follows the path of her beliefs, and sheds skin after skin to stay current with who she inwardly sees and is.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, singer/songwriter Jane Stewart changed her name to Jane Siberry as a life-guiding talisman to honour the full, true richness of love she felt and had observed, between her maternal aunt and uncle. In 2002 she released the album Love is Everything – true to form (one of fourteen albums, four live albums, five compilations, eleven movie soundtracks, poetry and video).
Jane has endured creative highs and lows, alcohol addiction, difficult relationship periods and the embracing of her sexuality and its sacredness. She has fought requests by record labels to be more marketable and rather created her own Sheeba label, self-published, sold all belongings (except one guitar), travelled to Europe, and changed her name a second time to “Issa” (an empty cup).
As Issa, she allowed herself to let go of expectations and just listen. Purely motivated by inspiration, the result was thirty-three songs written in thirty-three days, culminating in a trilogy of albums called “Three Queens.” Further metamorphosis saw Issa changing her name back to Jane Siberry in December 2009, as the change to Issa had gotten in her way.
Jane Siberry plays small venues, advertising through her fan mailing list. She wants all people to be able to have her music, and created a flexible payment policy – pay what you can!
As I work to publish my own poetry, get two distinctly different albums off the ground, and take to the Camino de Santiago trail with cello on back, I will keep Jane Siberry as a talisman – walking the walk of personal and creative integity so art rings clear and true, inspiring all to be the best of themselves, giving thanks to the thick and thin.
– by Morag Northey
as printed in the Kolbe Times, Fall 2012