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In my current project, I pay homage to the iconic year of 1969. I have been inspired by discussions with my mentor and dear friend, David Clayton-Thomas, about the transformative spirit of the late '60s. This project hopes to capture the zeitgeist of the era when musicians were warriors for social justice, peace and love.
Check out my first two singles below and please let me know what you think by leaving a review at the bottom. Thanks so much for stopping by! - Gigi
Photo by Kerry Shaw
NEW MUSIC OUT NOW
Nick Drake's River Man
I first heard "River Man" on Nick Drake's album Five Leaves Left in my early teens, and it became one of my sonic sanctuaries.
When I was 15, I experienced unfathomable loss.
My 17-year-old step-sibling and beloved friend Emily passed away.
Emily was a teenage punk poetess who, as an older sister, positively influenced me. But Emily grappled with intense existential crises. She had suicidal tendencies, and darkness eventually consumed her. We lost her when she overdosed on her prescription of Halcion, which is no longer prescribed in such cases.
That year was the most challenging year of my young life. Consumed by crippling grief and my own existential questions, going to school and musical creativity were beyond my grasp. I spent most of my time listening to music alone in my bedroom. Nick Drake was a refuge, and it wasn't until years later that I discovered he, too, had passed away similarly from an overdose of his anti-depressant.
I sing "River Man" for you at the intersection of heartache and relief. An elegy to the lost loves of our lives - my dear sibling and best friend Emily, and all the untimely separations we experience. "Oh, how they come and go." Nick sang of life's transience. Indeed.
This recording features Eric St-Laurent on guitar, George Koller on bass, Ben Wittman on drums, and Rob Christian on sax. As jazz musicians, every time we play is unique, and this is what we laid down one lovely day live off the floor at Canterbury Studios in Toronto with Jeremy Darby on the console. The song was mixed and mastered by saxophonist and co-producer Rob Christian.
Cover photo by David Fine, shot by the Marentette Marsh, in Leamington, ON.
King Crimson's I Talk to the Wind
"I Talk to the Wind," my second single, is a King Crimson classic, a rare gem from their progressive rock album In the Court of the Crimson King.
My arrangement features Eric St-Laurent on guitar, George Koller on bass, Ben Wittman on drums, and a stunning string interlude by Grammy-nominated Drew Jurecka. My interpretation was shaped by my 2019 singing residency amidst Hong Kong's political unrest. To me, the song's lyrics reflect the isolation and struggle for meaning that many social activists across generations experience.
The inspiration for this project is deeply personal, drawing from my close mentorship with legendary musician David Clayton-Thomas of Blood Sweat & Tears and his generation's steadfast commitment to social activism.
In 1969, Clayton-Thomas reached the zenith of his career as Blood Sweat and Tears won the Grammy for Best Album and played at Woodstock. Also in 1969, my mom, Linda, at 18, left her job at the UAW in Windsor and relocated to Toronto to aid the draft dodgers of the Vietnam War. Her mother was motivated by social justice, human rights, and peace ideals that fueled most musicians at the time.
To this day, Clayton-Thomas is deeply frustrated by the state of global affairs, while my mom remains eternally optimistic about the efforts of future generations.
"I Talk to the Wind" captures the sentiments of activists who continue pursuing societal transformation despite feeling alienated or unheard. The lyrics resonate as powerfully today as they did in 1969, suggesting that seeking change sometimes feels akin to talking to the wind.
I dedicate this song to my elder activists and their unwavering commitment to social justice, hoping to honour the enduring spirit of activism and the impact of music as a medium for conveying messages of love and hope.
Cover photo by Cornelia Pierce, on a trash heap outside of Berlin.
This project could not have taken place without the generous support of my incredible community and my label Vesuvius Music. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for the privilege of making and releasing music.