Article #1: SINGING IN THE STREAM OF LIFE:
After seven years Fara Palmer returns, phoenix-like, to the Junos.
It was one of those days, a day that held what Fara Palmer calls a series of fortunate events. The singer/songwriter was visiting Kamloops from her Skeetchestn home...when she locked her keys in the car and got a parking ticket. A couple stopped to help her retrieve the keys and the woman spotted her lated CD, Phoenix. A self-managed indie artist, Palmer sold a copy and headed off to City Hall to pay her parking fine, only to encounter Mayor Terry Lake. She presented the mayor with another CD and various credentials, just a local indie artist on her way to the Junos in Calgary April 6.
Palmer, who only returned to music in 2007 after a seven-year hiatus, takes it all in stride. After all this is her third Juno nomination. "I'm a mixture of a city and a country girl; I don't have any illusions about grandiosity," she said. "I do love music very much. It was an acknowledgment, but it wasn't like with the first CD. When I got that first nomination I was just thrilled". "I was grateful," she continued. "I did take off the last 7 1/2 years, and I'm one of the artists in this country whose lucky enough to have my talent recognized," she said, noting the wealth of talent that goes unrecognized.
A daughter of Skeetchestn Chief Ron Ignace, Palmer hardly needs an introduction to local audiences. Music was part of her upbringing. She had an auspicious start, performing at age 12 at a festival, where she shared the stage with Buffy Sainte-Marie. She began recording music in the 1990s. Her debut CD, This Is My World, was nominated in the Juno's aboriginal artist category for the song Walk Away in 1998. That album made a considerable first impression. The following year she took home female artist and song of the year honours at the... (Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards- CAMA's). Then her second CD, Prettybrown, repeated the feat at the 2000 Junos and earned her another top artist honour from the CAMA's. After touring on the strength of Prettybrown in 2001 and cohosting the Canadian Aboriginal Music Awards, she decided to take time off to have a family. She and her husband, Jay, a carver and builder, now have four young daughters.
In 2006 she decided to return to her music career and recorded a three-song demo to pursue grant funding. It had been two years since her family and community suffered the loss of her brother Gabriel, affectionately known as Skooks, who was brutally murdered in Kamloops. Phoenix, named for the ancient, mythical bird that ascends from its own ashes, is dedicated to his memory. "At times it really felt like our world fell apart," she recalled. Yet she is one who believes in the inner capacity to heal, and in using music as a catalyst for positive change. "I was inspired by the bird," in naming the recording. "It doesn't matter how terrible life is, how sad life is or how hurtful life is. There are still decisions you can make. There is still hope".
My Brother, a moving tribute to Gabriel, is an exception on an otherwise uptempo collection of songs produced in close collaboration with Peter Kilgour of Chilliwack. "One step at a time we created the music together." She categorizes Phoenix as a singer/songwriter album, with each track carrying its own distinct meaning. There are elements of rock, rhythm and blues (sh's a big fan of Aretha Franklin), disco, world, dance, and "sometimes country." "Being raised out here in this area there was only rock 'n' roll and country. "My music is eclectic. It's really pop and R&B - aboriginal folkrock. It has elements of everything I love in it."
Along with a return to music, she's been called upon to share her experiences as a public speaker, though she stops short of calling herself a motivational speaker. "It's basically empowerment. I tell stories about my music, about stage fright...stories[of all the experience i have gathered]."
As for the Junos in two weeks' time, she shares the aboriginal nomination with singer Little Hawk, guitarist Derek Miller, fiddler Donny Parenteau and artist/composer Sandy Scofield of Vancouver. Scofield's a good friend she'd like to see honoured. "I am being a little bit selfish because I'd like to win. The most wonderful thing to me is getting on stage and sharing music with people. Working with people, having a personal connection with them, I really love that."