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Sara Marlowe «

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Sara Marlowe
Sara Marlowe

Artist Spotlight
In the strong tradition of women songwriters with powerful messages, there were pioneers like Joni Mitchell and Alanis Morrisette. Now perhaps is Sara Marlowe's turn.

Before writing political music, Sara studied both classical and jazz voice in Toronto as well as Balinese Gamelan, Japanese Taiko drumming and West African drumming. She has been described as having "a stunningly beautiful voice", "with force and power, resting these talents on a bed of jazzy rock, folk, pop, and world music." One reviewer even comments that "Sara's voice is perfect for this medium. She can sound sweet and pissed off at the same time."

Sara came to political songwriting through activism and balances her time between being an activist and a musician. She draws her musical inspiration from involvement in numerous social justice campaigns - the effects of war on children, the global justice movement as well as issues closer to home, such as poverty, homelessness, privatization, discrimination. She has shared the stage with renowned radical, rabble-rousing musicians, including Bruce Cockburn, David Rovics, Chris Brown and Anne Feeney.

» Sara Marlowe :: Official Web Site
» Buy Sara's CDs

Sara's fusion of artistry and political organization began before the war. Sara's first CD "A World to Win: Songs from the Struggle for Global Justice" came out in the wake of massive demonstrations in Quebec City, Canada, in the spring of 2001, against the planned Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Many songs on her debut CD came out of this struggle - telling the stories of the demonstrations, the conditions people are fighting against, and the world people are fighting for. "A World to Win" was also selected as one of the Top 10 Releases of 2002 by 'HarrisRadio' in New York City.

Sara has recently released her second CD, "Times Like These..." and is gearing up for a North American tour this coming fall. She sees herself not only as a mirror of people's experience and their determination to change the world but also hopes to be a catalyst to inspire more people to take part in the struggle for the better world that we all know is possible.

» "Only Starlight" by Sara Marlowe
» "Warchild" by Sara Marlowe

Exclusive Q And A
Q:  Why is peace important to you personally?
A:  I feel it is so tragic that the majority of people's lives in the world are characterized by suffering, undue hardship and violence, just so that an elite few can have lots and lots of money. Things don't have to be this way. Can you imagine how amazing this world would be if people were able to actually explore and nourish their potential instead of worrying about their next meal or worse, whether they will survive past the next week?

Q:  Who influenced your music when you were growing up and who inspires you now?
A:  Growing up, I was a little 'punk' kid (copying my older brother of course!) so I listened to mostly 'new wave' music. I loved The Cure, David Sylvian, This Mortal Coil and my dad took me to see Siousxie and the Banshees for my 11th B-day. My other favorite genre was (oddly enough) Broadway musicals with "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" being my favorite musical as a child. Actually, my 'music career' actually started out with me being a dancer.

Now I listen to jazz, different world music, lots of indie music, 'Café Del Mar' style music and bands like Radiohead... and of course Joni and Bob Dylan. Regarding inspiration, it is people's words and stories that inspire me musically; hearing them speak at rallies or political meetings, protest chants and personal testimonies. I am inspired when I hear people's stories of suffering, survival and resistance, stories that we so often do not get to hear.

Q:  Your music has a strong activism message in it. Do you think that most artists are afraid of being labeled one way or the other?
A:  If a musician wants to be the next Britney, they had better stay away from singing anti-war songs! For me, I am proud to be labeled as a political musician. I spent a lot of time singing musical theatre which, while I love some of it, was just not me. I have now found what I truly love to do musically and the label fits.

There is a, however, a long and proud history of openly political music and art... in America and around the world. Public Enemy, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Bragg, Rage Against the Machine, ani difranco and many others have built very successful careers and reached millions of people through 'conscious' lyrics. Bruce Springsteen's biggest album (Born in the USA) is actually a criticism of American politics, although coming out in the 80's, it was marketed very differently!

I do think it is great though, when artists who do not necessarily perform openly political art make a statement about current issues. Viggo Mortensen (Aragorn in 'Lord of the Rings') has spoken out against the war on numerous occasions, and LOTS of people listen to him. And Sheryl Crow, wearing her 'War is not the Answer' t-shirt on TV appearances is so great! They are able to reach a huge audience of ordinary people whose only info on such issues mostly comes from the uncritical, mainstream media. I know that quite often I'm kind of 'singing to the choir' so to speak. Most people who choose to listen to my music are likely already thinking that there's perhaps just a little something not quite right with the current state of affairs. So I am so psyched when artists who are not labeled as political - are!

Q:  Tell us a little about "Warchild", your new submission to our project.
A:  In Toronto (Canada), I belong to an organization called "Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights". Some members of that group were involved in a fundraising show for 'Warchild Canada' with music and dances from various countries in the Middle East. At the end of the entertainment, there was a slide show with narration, which showed images of children caught in war torn countries around the world. The entire audience was in tears at the sight of what some political leaders have referred to as 'collateral damage.' After seeing this presentation, I thought, 'Here we go again'... more and more children are about to be forced into a life (or death) of war. Around the same time, my friend and fellow-activist at school, Tanya Chute, had written a peace poem for an anti-war rally, which also spoke about the devastating impact of war on children and families. I combined these two experiences and wrote the lyrics to 'Warchild' and recorded it with Dave Olsen, who writes socially-conscious original jazz music.

Q:  Say in 50 years, after a long and successful musical career, what do you want to be best remembered for?
A:  I want to best be remembered for playing a part in stopping the current war, along with the millions of other people around the world, who can say, when the war is over, "I was there. I am part of the biggest global peace movement ever."

Q:  You are currently half way around the world in China as we speak. Tell us some of your travel stories and experiences.
A:  I have been very fortunate to have traveled as much as I have and even though I am a 'starving artist', I still have the ability to travel, unlike most of the people in the countries I have visited. For most, travel is a luxury they can only dream about. Traveling gives one the opportunity to meet new people, experience different cultures, and break some of our own illusions about the world.

I wish everyone could travel wherever they wished, but most people can't. Money, repressive governments and other things keep most people immobile. But in spite of that, people are very aware of the world outside them. I was in Egypt, before coming to China, attending an international anti-war conference with delegates from North America, Europe and the Middle East. When walking around Cairo, on numerous occasions, Egyptians approached me in the street and asked me to convey a message back home. Their message is that Egyptians are not all terrorists and Arabs are not bad people. How sad to think that this is how the world perceives them and they know it too.

And now in China, well, there is no culture of political dissent here; it is strictly forbidden. Nonetheless, one of the first questions people want to ask me is what I think of the war. They are relieved to hear me say I am for peace and are eager to listen to my openly political CD.

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