Monday, April 28, 2014

ANNE HEATON



I don't usually write at the start of an interview, but this time I will. It isn't every day that you set out to find someone and meet someone else instead. However, that is exactly what happened to me. 

It all began when I decided to hunt for an artist by the name of  Claire Clube. Though I personally did not know Claire, I knew of her. My father and step mother would visit Claire's family on holidays in Nantucket and on their return they would often share photographs. Claire always stood out to me. She was not only naturally beautiful but she had a sense of peace about her. Her eyes would beam like rays of light and her smile was contagious. I'm not so sure if it was the way she dressed or the way she carried herself ..gracefully- there was just something different about Claire.

I was so excited, I knew Claire would be a perfect fit for MAP. She was not only a truly  creative woman - she was also a mother of two children. So, with that said.. I was on a mission to find her. 

I texted my father about how to reach her. Waiting for his text-  Nothing could have prepared me enough for his words. 

"I hate to tell you this - but Claire is gone."

My heart sank deeply into the pit of my stomach. I sat there in silence and held my phone staring at the words. -Claire is gone-

What? It didn't seem real. It just couldn't be! I mean, she was so ALIVE!

He then told me that she had traveled to Africa with her daughter in the summer of 2013, and while flying in a small jet plane- they had crashed.

I sat there- silently. Tears in my eyes as I began to realize the reality of life. That we are all here for a short time, not knowing the number of our days.  

This news laid heavy on my mind. It didn't feel right. I wasn't satisfied with the answer. I began to research the accident. I watched video footage, read articles, looked at pictures posted and found it was indeed true. 

However- In the muck and in the sorrow of such a loss of two precious souls, I found a ray of light on the face of a woman by the name of Anne Heaton, a singer songwriter.

Not only had Claire published a book of poetry before she passed, she was also working on a beautiful collaboration with Anne Heaton.

After doing my research, I just knew that I had to find Anne. I felt like she had something to say, or to share and somehow I was going to help her do that. After contacting her, she agreed to meet me. I packed up my car and drove to Chicago for an interview. Over coffee and a lot of catching up- I felt that our paths were meant to cross and I am so very thankful that they have.

My goal with this interview is to honor both mother artists, Claire Clube and Anne Heaton. Beautiful and very talented - they worked together to create a moving album, Dora- while balancing the needs of their families. Often times, the "behind the scenes" of a mother artists life is untold - and or unnoticed. 

I'd like to simply bring awareness to the often difficult task of what I like to call- "the balancing act". A time where a woman must decide what takes presidence  - her call to be creative or her duty to start a load of laundry, or wash a stack of dishes or dive into the bedtime routine. Either way, they are often both dear to her heart- the word I want to use here is Dedication. It takes dedication to be both... a mother and an artist.

I'd also like to remind you that time is precious. Like Claire Clube, her life was full and vibrant. She was involved and lived passionately. In an instant - she was no longer here. It is urgent to remember that your time is now. Your gift, your talent is your ticket - use it or lose it.

Embrace life, be kind, let go, move forward .. for we are not promised tomorrow. 


What is your name?

Anne Heaton


Where are you from?

I was born in Camp LeJeune, NC and grew up in Wilmette, IL




Where do you live?

After ten years in New York City (and surrounding areas) and three years in Somerville, MA, I am now back living in the Chicagoland area.




When did you realize that you wanted to be an performer?

I think the first time I ever stepped on a stage was at a puppet show when I was 4 years old. At that moment, I realized I felt extremely comfortable. I had the initial nudge of knowing I wanted to perform (although I wouldn't have been able to articulate that at the time). I didn't know I wanted to write songs until I was in college. I was always a music fan but I was also a deep thinker and feeler (I loved learning about philosophy and different theologies) so when I heard Peter Gabriel's Us album and later, when I learned of the songs of the Indigo Girls, I realized that the songs could be more than just "boy meets girl" or a broken heart song. That song could actually be an appropriate "venue" for some of the feelings/thoughts I was struggling to express. Once I realized this, I was hooked. I still write romantic love songs too but at the time, knowing there could be so  many psychological and spiritual layers to a song, it really soothed my soul. I also thought that if I could ever move someone the way these people have moved me, I will feel fantastic and like my life was worthwhile!



Who influenced you as an singer-songwriter?

Tori Amos, Debussy, The Rolling Stones, Fine Young Cannibals, Wes Anderson, Tom Waits to name a few. Today, my friends who are songwriters influence me.  




What is your favorite creative outlet? 

Right now, I'm playing around with nonfiction short stories so it's my favorite at the moment.



Do you have a studio? Where is it? 

No I wish, right now we are in between living situations, but I do have two pianos which is great.



When did you become a mother?
I became a mother on October 9, 2010 if you count the day my daughter Cecilia was born as being the day I became a mother, although now that I think about it, maybe it was before that.


What are your challenges as a musician?

I think my biggest challenge is my frustration at having an expectation that I'm going to write to do work and then have something intervene (like my children) and being able to get over that. The truth is I just as often have an unexpected chance to write (they'll nap unexpectedly or play quietly) as the opposite is true. I think being present with them is extremely important but because my life is not clearly delineated into: now you're at work: now you're at home, I'm always doing this dance and sometimes I feel like I'm doing too many other things in front of them. However, maybe it's okay and maybe it's good for them. Maybe time will tell.



What has been the driving force behind keeping a balance between being a mother and an musician?

I really want to be a happy mom for them and I feel like my soul craves making things. I get a lot of energy from showing up to write and seeing what comes and exploring different topics and then editing them to make sure they are really communicating a particular message or sense of humor. After doing creative work like this, I am a much nicer mom. I can also let go a little more. Without my kids though, I might work too much.



When do you spend time creating your music?

For a while, I was waking up early. This last week, I've been drinking coffee around 9:30pm and being a night owl. It sort of depends. When I'm on tour playing shows I get into a nighttime schedule. When I'm home, I like to wake up early. Although sometimes I find that songs and story ideas come at the strangest times. Like one time I was on tour and pulled into a rest stop and I had a memory of the rest stop, so I quickly wrote down some ideas in my phone. Another time, our family was working at a soup kitchen around Christmas time. We had to wake up at 5am and I was thinking it would be painful but on the ride in, clear as day, in my head, I had the melody and rhythm and lyrics to a song I had forgotten about. I recorded it on my phone (I wasn't driving ;))



How many children do you have? Do you want more?

We have two daughters. Rosemary Cecilia is 3 1/2 and Helen Paloma is 1 year old. I don't know. wait to hear if someone else is waiting to come to earth via our family ;)



Have you ever considered giving up music in order to be a mother?

Sure, but I always consider giving up making music because I like to be dramatic inside my head. I say things like: "This is it, I can't make any money for groceries consistently, this is ridiculous, I'm going to send out an email to my whole email list and say goodbye and thank them for their support over the years but it's over. I can't make another record." Then I realize that's not entirely true and a story that I just keep telling myself. I haven't done this as much with my girls because, I don't know, there doesn't seem to be a conflict really other than in presenting the art (because it involves traveling to play shows). Making the art doesn't really conflict although I probably don't finish songs as quickly as I did before they were born. Writing is a way of me keeping on top of what's going on with me as a human being. Maybe they'll see it this way one day. Maybe not. Maybe they'll remember me always typing on my computer and hate computers and iPhones. Or maybe they'll remember that I got to be home a lot during the week because my schedule is flexible and that we got to go and walk on the beach


Do you have support from your family and friends to keep writing and preforming?

Yes.
My husband is a musician as well and has always been emotionally and artistically supportive. My family accepts what I do and anyone who was worried about my initial career choice is now accustomed to it.

 


Do you feel like you are taken seriously as a mother artist?

I suppose so. I don't really know what other people think.







Has becoming a mother influenced your music and or writing?

Yes. I haven't written many songs overtly about being a mother, but I've been writing short stories that are. This has been really fun. The stories have a much different tone from my songs and are more similar to the banter I used in my live show. 



Do you think mother artists are taken seriously in society? 

Definitely. 

Maybe even more seriously because they have this whole experience of motherhood that can enrich their work.






What do you say when someone asks “what does your husband do for a living?” are you offended by such a question?


Not at all. My husband is a full-time electrical engineering student anyway.



What is your story?

I'm not sure what my story is exactly, but I have had a few turning points which have led me here. After college as a Great Books major at The University of Notre Dame, I went to work as a White House intern on health care reform under Hillary Clinton. While I was working there, even though it was something I believed in, I almost never laughed and I really didn't get to use my creativity or humor in a way that was beneficial to anyone else or satisfying to me. I had gone there to work for the summer in the hopes that I would secure a full-time job in the Clinton administration. Midway through the summer, I interviewed for a position assisting a financial advisor of some kind in the Old Executive Office Building. The interview went really well and I started to get extremely nervous that I would actually get the job.  I felt so conflicted that I spent an entire Saturday sitting in the Washington National Cathedral asking God for guidance about whether I should continue on this political path or pursue music and songwriting ( which had been a secret desire of mine for a long time).I sat and sat and sat and no guidance arrived. I was mad. Finally I said to the Universe or to myself and God: "Fine don't tell me what to do!" and I got up to walk out of the church. Then I decided to stay a little longer. Shortly after that I had an epiphany that I didn't belong in DC and that I (and the world) would be better served if I pursued music and writing instead of politics. It seems obvious now, but at the time, it was very scary because I had put a lot of energy and effort into being a White House intern. I had to tell my family who were very disappointed to say the least but I was now on my right path.

Later, as I started dabbling in songwriting I took a job as a administrator of a creative arts program for teenagers in a public housing complex in Chicago. While there, the kids used to always ask me: "Can I pursue my dream of writing a sitcom?" or "Do you think I can really be a famous singer or act in a play?" etc. I would answer with a resounding yes but I felt uncomfortable because I did not feel I could truly answer that question affirmatively without having pursued my own artistic dreams. It was then that I truly made the decision to follow my aspirations to write songs, make albums, tour professionally and share the stage with some of my musical and songwriting heroes. Now that I have done many of the things I feel like I can give a true "yes" answer to that question. That said, the creative can still be both exhilarating and scary because you never know whats coming. You have to trust!

What have you learned about balancing motherhood and your passions?

Well, I recorded two records, Honeycomb and Dora, right before and during the 1st year of life Cecilia was born. Having Cecilia made my life much richer and it also made my time in the studio feel more precious because it was so limited. 

I learned a lot from Claire Clube about balancing motherhood. Claire and I made an album together (the one called Dora) where I set her poems to music. During the time I knew her, Claire had a son and daughter in their early twenties and over the course of us working together on our album, I gave birth to two girls. Clarie was so passionate about the project we were working on and yet, as much as she love it, it always took a back seat to her children and what they needed and them all having fun together, traveling, working on their dreams, etc. Maybe it's not so much that the album took a back seat but more that the project didn't even make sense to do if she wasn't fully living her life vibrantly. 



The project itself was an extension of her love for life and her love for her children. She was very intuitive and did things in the flow. Therefore things always worked out. I like to think that I do this too but when I need inspiration, Claire is my role model for living fearlessly(or moving through fear)which I think is a huge component of living a creative life. 


 

What advice can you offer other mother artists about pursuing their passions regardless of their situation?

Just do a little bit every day. Or a little bit three times a week. Just writing in a journal or making a promise to yourself to write one chapter of your book each week (a rough draft) or one stanza of a song each day. Whatever it is that you love to do, even if you don't meet your deadline, you will feel so much happier for having shown up to do this work. It's a way of showing up for yourself and it's a way of knowing yourself better. Just like we work on our relationships with our children, significant other and friends, we need to work on our relationship with ourselves as well. It's the most important relationship of all and all of our others depend on it. 



What do you want to be remembered for as an artist?

That I was kind. 















For more information on Anne Heaton visit: http://www.anneheaton.com






New Album HONEYCOMB - “The recording is so good"- Richard Milne, WXRT

"Astute & sometimes wry, her songs unfold like tiny maps of the human condition" - The Chicago Sun Times



Press Release from Sky Media 

Anne Heaton to release collaborative album,
Dora, with poet Claire Clube



Heaton Hopes Clube's Memory Will
Carry On Through Album

Album To Be Released February 14, 2014

The boldly vulnerable collaborative album Dora from acclaimed singer-songwriter Anne Heaton and lyric poet Claire Clube is a project born of both heartbreak and an enduring love of life.  The album, with its dark beauty, delivers healing.  Heaton and Clube are both mothers who braved divorce to reclaim the life and sense of self they gave up in their unfulfilling marriages.

With this creative union, Heaton and Clube have crafted a work of hope and empowerment.  Dora’s songs are close snapshots of relationships with people and the natural world. I will always be looking into the sea/ I stand chest deep in water/ Level with the gulls,from the song “Selkie,” shows the intimate vantage point of the album.

“I broke free for a more authentic life,” Clube said. “There is nothing glamorous here—it’s the gritty nuts and bolts of being a creative woman, raising a family, and then going through a harsh divorce. Now I’m reorganizing my life. I'm starting over.” 

Tragically, Clube was killed in a plane crash in Africa in July 2013, while she and Heaton were in the midst of planning the details surrounding the release of Dora.  “So shocking was this news to me,” said Heaton, “that it took me some time to even believe it.  The fact that this extremely full-of-life, joyful person could leave was more than surprising.” Heaton hopes that the memory of the wonderful person she knew Clube to be will carry on and be appreciated through this album.

Clube was the author of a book of poems entitled Dora.  Heaton has built a career writing songs that comfort and confront with big truths sweetly packed in piano-based folk-pop. The Washington Post has called Heaton’s songs “tender, barbed, and spiritual,” The Boston Globe has described the Chicago-based artist’s music as “lush, introspective, and elegant” and Paste Magazine has called her work “stunning.” Heaton has toured nationally, played the Sundance Film Festival, Lilith Fair, and has been a featured artist on the New York Times Music Podcast. Heaton has also played numerous times on NPR and has had her songs featured on Starbucks in-store playlists around the world. With Dora, Heaton makes her debut as a producer.  

“In my heart of hearts, I’m a collaborator,” Heaton said.  “Sometimes I feel really connected to a particular audience, but, since I mostly write alone, it was amazing to experience that sense of connection in the creative process itself.”

The seeds of this collaboration began when Clube attended an Anne Heaton show at Club Passim in Boston. It was a time of confusion and pain for Clube, and Club Passim was a place of refuge where she could escape her troubles and discover new music. During this complex time, Clube struggled with the demise of her 25-year marriage, nurtured the poet inside her soul, and grappled with the emotional confusion of finding real love outside of her committed relationship. As the tides shifted in Clube’s life, she and Heaton struck up a friendship. From the warmth and ease of their interactions, Clube and Heaton agreed to collaborate on an album.

Dora features Clube’s visceral and heartfelt poetry, set to a blend of singer-songwriter pop, classical, and jazz/blues music. One song, “Blue Milk,” expresses the primal and unconditional bond between a mother and her child. The music has a smoky sophistication while Heaton sings with poise and poignancy Clube’s intensely emotional words: My waters break/I howl/You cry/How strange/The placenta plump like a bagpipe/My breasts fill with hot milk/With blue milk they fill. Heaton also sings the stinging chorus with stunning grace:You anoint me/You anoint me/My love is savage.

The title track, Dora, based on Clube’s poem of the same name, was loosely inspired by “Dora Markus,” a Eugenio Montale poem from the 1900s. In Clube’s poem, the character Dora embodies a complex but empowering metaphor. She is soft but seductively powerful. Her sense of self is unselfconscious, observed by a woman and desired by a man. With delicate power Heaton sings lines like: Dora do you know how he watches you/As you lie in the grass touching your breasts/Your hand inching beneath your skirt/Your eyes aligned with stars/He loves you ’cause you penetrate his loneliness.

For Heaton, writing music to someone else’s life story was liberating. “For singer-songwriters, our work is often perceived to be solely autobiographical when oftentimes, it is not,” she said. “It was refreshing to create something that would not be assumed to literally represent my own story. At the same time, it gave me more leeway to explore and break rules. I was able to let the music stretch out, not fit into a particular musical box, and include a wider range of styles. I allowed the sensuality of Claire’s words to come through. I felt like a messenger or translator. I think we've created something unusual with Dora.

“It’s been a giant catharsis to wipe the slate clean,” Clube said reflecting on the journey that led to the Dora album. “I’ve experienced major shifts in my life in the last few years and come out the other side.  I feel like I can do anything with my life now.”

“Some of my favorite albums, like Peter Gabriel’s US, were, in part, born of marital heartbreak,” said Heaton. “I never wanted to talk about my own divorce because it felt so personal. It was definitely the hardest thing I ever had to do, but my life finally started to move after I let my marriage go. In the community I grew up in, a marriage ending was considered incredibly taboo. I remember as a kid hearing about women who got divorced who then got very sick or were poor or who never got up off the couch for the next 10 years. I didn’t want to be this person, and I was terrified that being a divorced woman could cause this even though rationally I knew it didn’t have to. Then I met Claire, this powerful and joyful person without a trace of bitterness or regret, a fearless woman who had taken a scary step.  I said to myself: ‘Here’s someone I want to live like.’ So I took a great interest in her words. I loved the colorful way she interacted with and wrote about people and the natural world. So I had a ball turning these poems into songs.”






2 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this. I was a really close friend of Claire's from the days we met in Hong Kong in the 80's. We lost touch these past years and I was devastated to hear of her death along with her daughter. I am so happy to be able to access her poems through this music. She was indeed magical. Pure magic. She had a very special, deep soul. Margaret Gervais Hinshaw, Portland, Oregon

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  2. We were close childhood friends . I am really devastated by the news. I got to know Claire from school in London when we were about eight years old . Her mother Diana Clube would take us on picnics . We would go in the Bentley that belonged to Claire's father. My name is Mona Amin I come from Egypt . We lost touch but once Claire sent me a postcard from Hong Kong . That's how I became certain that it's the Claire I knew that had this terrible accident . .

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