Tag Archives: inspiration

Knowledge is Power!

She's Listening!

She’s Listening!

OVARIAN CANCER – The Little-Known Killer of Women!

We the Four Winds Collective (independent artists Kat Leonard, Arlene Paculan, Meghan Morrison and Heather Hill) played a fundraising event for Ovarian Cancer Canada last Friday night with local artist Kelly Sloan at Bass Line Station in Ottawa, Ontario. Mike Anderson of CanadaParties.ca organized the event.  As the Winds traveled the 401 east, we discussed our issues with supporting certain types of charity fundraising events. We agreed that we are not as interested in supporting organizations that are backed by pharmaceutical companies as much as we want to support the charities that are lean, agile and creative and not backed by organizations that serve to benefit from the illness and its treatments.

Upon arrival at Bass Line Station we met Lynn Griffiths, who has been an active volunteer for Ovarian Cancer Canada since losing her dear sister Ann to the disease in 2007.   The Four Winds were pleased to learn that Ovarian Cancer Canada is not backed by pharmaceuticals and relies heavily on volunteers and donations to help raise awareness and funds for research.  Lynn had all kinds of literature for us and she shared some incredible information.

When Corinne Boyer succumbed to ovarian cancer in 1997 at the age of 57 years old, she left an enduring legacy.  Corinne’s husband, Patrick Boyer, created the Corinne Boyer Fund to advance ovarian cancer research and awareness.  In 1999 the name was changed to National Ovarian Cancer Association (NOCA). In 2002 the name was changed to Ovarian Cancer Canada, and it remains a member-based and funded organization. There is a research chair at the University of Ottawa as well as one that was added recently in Toronto.

Every year, 2600 Canadian women are diagnosed and 1750 women succumb to ovarian cancer.  What is most difficult is that there is no test to screen for whether you have ovarian cancer, and the symptoms are incredibly generic and subtle and very easily missed. And ovarian cancer must be treated early to increase the chances of successful healing.  Lynn mentioned that one of the risk factors is ovulation, that the more you ovulate the greater the risk of ovarian cancer.  So women who have not given birth and are not on the birth control pill could be at greater risk for developing ovarian cancer.

For more information, please visit www.ovariancanada.org.

What every woman NEEDS TO KNOW – or tell a woman you love!

▪   There is a lifetime risk of 1 in 70 that you will develop ovarian cancer

▪   Many doctors are unfamiliar with the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and fail to consider it as a possible diagnosis

▪   Failure to find the disease in its early stages is partly due to (i) lack of sensitive detection tests and (ii) health care providers and even women themselves may ignore warning symptoms

▪   A Pap smear does not detect ovarian cancer

▪   HPV vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer

▪    Recent research has found that a large proportion of ovarian cancers actually start in the fallopian tubes rather than the ovaries. If you are having gynecologic surgery, ask your doctor whether or not removal of the fallopian tubes would be beneficial to you. For more information, visit ovcare.ca

▪   Pain in the abdomen is not necessarily a symptom of ovarian cancer – even if you have no pain, your doctor cannot rule out ovarian cancer

▪  Even though ovarian cancer is known as the “disease that whispers” the majority of women with ovarian cancer report symptoms, including women diagnosed at an early stage

▪   Ovarian cancer rates rise after menopause, peaking from age 60-75, although it can occur at any age

▪   The hereditary form, found in families where many close relatives have had breast and/or ovarian cancer, tends to occur at an earlier age

The Four Winds enjoyed a warm night of music and amusement with Lynn and the staff of Bass Line Station as well as friends and audience who came out to join us.  We were thrilled to learn that many of the audience members donated very generously to Ovarian Cancer Canada and we were happy to donate proceeds of CD sales to the important cause.

Please do inform yourself about ovarian cancer and its symptoms as well as other insidious diseases, and please share information with your friends and loved ones.  As the Ovarian Cancer Canada tagline states: Knowledge is Power.

Four Winds with Mike Anderson and Lynn Griffiths

And now, for your listening pleasure, please enjoy two of the Winds’ cancer-inspired tunes: How Long by Heather Hill and Fuck Cancer by Kat Leonard.

Be well and be informed.

Love, Heather and Kat
(Two of the Four Winds Collective)

FUCK CANCER!


I am an active member of the Songwriters Association of Canada (SAC), which offers various workshop opportunities and resources for songwriters.  I meet regularly with a group to showcase works in progress and sometimes collaborate and exercise skills. One SAC exercise was to take a song that we love and play with the lyrics and/or musical components.  Playing with music and emulating others is a helpful exercise in developing our own talents.  As children, we learn task, behaviour and language by imitating those around us.  It’s important for artists to find their own voice, but I believe experimentation with something that inspires us is a great playground and springboard to our own possibilities.

I chose Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujahkd lang’s rendition changed my relationship with music.  I had the opportunity of soaking in an intimate performance of hers.  I sat 5 feet from her on the same floor.  From the moment she inhaled her first singing breath, I knew I was forever changed.  Watching her use her phenomenal instrument to allow the release of such a beautiful and powerful spirit, to feel it move about the room, that spirit souring on a wave of soul that carried me to another dimension was… (sigh) enigmatically indescribable.  But I blissfully digress.  I love the work of Leonard Cohen.  He’s a true music-smith and storyteller.  I also love that his first name is my last.

The lyrics I wrote for the SAC exercise are Fuck Cancer, but I have since gotten more mileage out of Cohen’s incredible Hallelujah sound bed.  I was asked to sing Hallelujah at both a wedding and a funeral this summer, so I changed the lyrics again and again to suit each of these events.

Excuse disclosure: This was an exercise in writing, not singing, so these aren’t slick recordings of the songs.  But if I wait until they’re made spiffy, I may not ever get to it.  My to-do list is way longer than the lineup for an iPhone 5!

Here are my three adaptations– with lyrics and link to sound in case you’d like to sing along!

FUCK CANCER

The lyrics “Fuck Cancer” are pretty severe.  The words “Fuck” and “Cancer” individually have pretty stirring effects on the ear and heart (also that other “C” word, but I’ve not made a lyric of it.)  So when Fuck and Cancer are put alongside each other, juxtaposed with the haunting splendor of Hallelujah’s sound bed, there’s a palpable reaction from the crowd I sing it to.   Some people read the lyrics before hearing the song and immediately thought, “No, don’t do this,” until they heard it sung and changed their tune to, “Oh, yes, do this.  Don’t even come up with an original song bed and melody to this.  It’s gotta be wedded to the sound of Hallelujah.”  Others suggested maybe toning down the “fuck” to “damn” or even “darn” or “screw”.  I wrestled a bit with the concern of harshness, because I don’t strive to offend.  However, I do strive to affect.   Yeah, Fuck is harsh.  So is Cancer.  So when Cancer’s less harsh, I’ll agree to soften the lyrics.  Until then, Fuck Cancer!!!

Hallelujah FUCK CANCER
(Leonard C. adapted by K. Leonard)

I had an aunt with guts of gold
A hefty laugh and warm hand to hold
You’d fall in love before you knew it
Her smile was bright, her humour sharp
Her encouraging words could dispel the dark
With cruel notice, she was gone before we knew it
Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer,  Fuck cancer,  Fuck cancer

Grampie fought the great evil abroad
He’s the old kind of brave we’ll forever applaud
He fought for freedom from might
Taught me I was never alone
Gave a lonely young girl a place to belong
And in the end he surrendered to only one enemy
Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer

I have a friend who’s been fucked before
She’s battled the devil who comes back for more
She struggles inside but she doesn’t show it
She’s a buoyant wave on a frantic sea
And the kind of friend I strive to be
If she’s gone too soon, the world becomes less worthy
Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer, Fuck cancer

We all know that your end will come
And though the path be snarled and long
We’ll find our way and fight you strong
Sing a battle cry with all our might
Stun the dark to succumb to light
Sing with perpetual echo: Fuck you, cancer
Fuck you cancer, Fuck you cancer, Fuck you cancer, Fuck you
Fuck you cancer, Fuck you-ou-ou… Fuck you cancer
Fuck you…. Fuck cancer

HALLELUJAH FOR A WEDDING

I sang this in Germany to a German congregation in an itty bitty delight of a village.  There were less than 10 people who understood the meaning of the lyrics I was singing, but there were many a tear streaming down from the effect of the melody and soul of the song.  The wedding and funeral versions of Hallelujah both begin with Cohen’s original lyrics and deviate from them.

HALLELUJAH For a Wedding
(Leonard C. adapted by K. Leonard)

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
It’s amazing how music goes through ya
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your love is strong and you live the proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She took your hand and won your heart
Gave your life a brand new start
And from your lips she drew Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I’ll do my best and love you much
With all I feel I need your touch
It’s truest of truth, I wouldn’t fool ya
I’ll stand by you through right and wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
And raise my voice in hallowed Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

HALLELUJAH FOR A FUNERAL

I also added a splash of Charlie Pride’s Crystal Chandeliers because it was my aunt’s favourite song to dance to.  Singing it a cappella in the church, it was easy to break into Crystal Chandeliers.  But I am really pleased with the result of breaking into the different song whilst remaining in the sound bed of Hallelujah.  I was even able to retain the original melody of Crystal Chandeliers and then meld back into the melody of Hallelujah.  Isn’t music amazing?!

Hallelujah For a Funeral
(by Leonard C. adapted with love
and a splash of Charlie Pride by K. Leonard)

I’ve heard there was a secret chord
David played and it pleased the Lord
It’s amazing how music gets to ya
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
It baffled the king composing Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Listen, I’ve been here before
I know this room and I’ve walked this floor
But all that was familiar is new
The legacy you’ve built is strong
I stand before the Lord of Song
And raise my voice in hallowed Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Your love is true and your friendship such
You can mend a heart with a simple touch
The power of the spirit runs through ya
And even though you can’t stay long
Your love and light to us belong
It echoes in every heartfelt Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

The crystal chandeliers light up your paintings on the wall
The marble statuettes are standing stately in the hall
But will the timely crowd that has you laughing loud
help you dry your tears
when the new wears off your crystal chandeliers

Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah

So that’s an example of a SAC music exercise that resulted in much play and education for me!   What are your thoughts on playing with music in this way?  What are your thoughts on the harsh lyrics of Fuck Cancer?  Do you think I should play with creating original music to go along with the lyrics, perhaps even just for the exercise of it?  Or do you prefer it this way?  (This is an academic question, of course, because it’s not my music bed to use beyond an exercise. ;p)  I think I’d really learn from your opinions!

As always, wishing you much music and play!

www.KatLeonard.com

WONDER FEST!

As Artistic Director of LMG Productions and the Wonder Women series, I am pleased as sangria punch with big chunks of saturated fruit in it to announce the first-ever week-long Wonder Women Festival happening during International Women’s Week March 4-8, 2013! 

As always, the aim of Wonder Women is to help spread empowerment through workshops and performance in order to share talent, ideas and encouragement through art– music, dance, comedy, spoken word, visual art, etc, etc, and art as yet to be invented.

For Wonder Women blurb and photos from the most recent event, Wonder Women V, visit my page dedicated to it: katleonard.com/wonderwomen

If you know of any wonder women, or are one yourself, interested in being involved with the Wonder Women series, please contact us at ImWorthItInfo@yahoo.ca.  We ask that submissions to be considered for the March 2013 Wonder Women VI event be received no later than September 30,2012.

I’m really, really, really looking forward to WWVI so much that I may get a tattoo to commemorate it! Or finish another bag of Doritos.

And just because this post is so woman-centric, I leave you with a nice chunk of man to muse over.

Enjoy!

www.KatLeonard.com

FLOATING FODDER: Reminder

One of the pieces I’ve carried with me since I found it. It floated to the top in the flood. I can’t remember what I clipped it from, but it hung on a bulletin board for quite some time and is going back there.

www.KatLeonard.com

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Leuty Station Earworms!

Heather Hill is touring her new album, Leuty Station, this summer– with the happy-vibe spreading Lily C!

Heather Hill launched Leuty Station May 2012.  Warning: it causes ear worms, that entertaining condition whereby a catchy tune boogies in your head throughout the day even when no tangible music is playing.

Heather Hill’s voice is like liquid love, with robust rumbling lows, ethereal highs and a plethora of delicious tones in between.  She’s one of those singers who can convey a story and/or emotion with the sound of her vocalizations without lyrics– and then she’s got good lyrics too!  The amazing thing about Heather’s lyrical stories is that they are very specific and often very literal with a truth that can give you shivers.

The vocal and instrumental play weaving together throughout this album is inspired and fun.  I’ll leave the instrumental critique to someone more instrumentally adept, but to this laylady—(Hmm, this literary play on layman doesn’t have the eloquent sound I thought it might)—I hear topnotch beats and grooves that generate many a Leuty Station earworm.  Prior to the Leuty Station CD launch, Heather did a marvelous series devoting a blog to each individual song on the CD.  You can hear the song, read the lyrics and learn a little something about the origin and process of the song.  It really is worth the read and listen.  It starts here: Leuty Station pre-release song 1

Never Grow Old has an infectious beat with thunderous affecting crashes.  I love the story behind this song and often smile with the thought of it. “To age and never grow old”

Wading Through Normal is extra-special to me because it’s a co-write with another gal I admire, Meghan Morrison.  I interviewed the two lovelies on their collaboration, and you can explore that here. Wading Through Normal sings for the unsung hero in Moms everywhere. “She’s remarkable in the every day, notable in the always there.”

Last Train is one of those true stories that gives me goose bumps when I consider it.  It’s a true story and the resultant song is haunting and encouraging in equal measure.  It reminds me how important it is to keep your mind and body as fit as possible.  “If ever there’s a time to win a race it’s now.”

The refrain of Leuty Station really speaks to me lyrically and sonically.  It takes me beyond myself, the way the refrain in Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey does.  It feels like the melody of my life, an anthem of hope weighted in possibility that makes me feel equally light and powerful.   It makes me feel truthful about myself.  “I like it that way, I like it that way.  Alone in the rain and the waves with my thoughts and hopes on this stormy day.” If ever I could do a Heather Hill cover song, Leuty Station is it.

For a truly transcending musical experience, you must hear Heather Hill live.  Generous, witty and wise in music and deed, she is an all-around luminous musician, woman and friend.

For information on Heather’s upcoming tour and how you can lure her to your very own city, visit www.HeatherHill.ca if you haven’t been there by now.

I look forward to sharing the lineup with Heather, Meghan Morrison, Lily C, and many other wonderful artists at the upcoming Wonder Women V event August 8, 2012 at 7:30 at the Celebration Square Amphitheatre in Mississauga. Hope to see you there!

Sing a blissful tune, everybuddy!

Love
www.KatLeonard.com

Captivated And Reaching For Sunlight

Music normally captivates me in three ways:

1) The sound: the melody and ambience of simple tones or intricate chords dancing together in a magical arrangement

2) The lyrics: the words, specific or all-encompassing, that articulate, commiserate and motivate

3) The voice: The unquantifiable features of a singer’s tone and expression that speak to me irrationally and profoundly

Lily C captivates me in all three categories on Reaching For Sunlight.  This is Lily C’s debut English album and it is described as, “a collection of songs that reflect her journey to stay hopeful despite challenging circumstances.”

Reaching For Sunlight is joyful and beguiling pop music woven from sonic layers that lull and enliven.  It has rousing pep, addictive rhythms and penetrating depth.

The lyrics are enlightening, empowering and everlasting.  It may not be fair to extract lyrics from their song bed, but many of these are so powerful on their own that I had to list some of my favourites.

“…in my hurricane of grief can you show me how to breathe…”

“…just when you think that you’re gonna die, that’s when you realize you’re made to fly…”

“…I’m reaching for sunlight like city flowers do…”

Lily’s voice is like hard candy: sweet and solid.  It’s like whiskey licorice.

While listening to I Am A Bee, I swore I was soaring on the breeze with butterflies until someone walked in the room and I realized it was just me bouncing in my office chair.

Come Back To My Love affects me most intensely.  My heart is struck in all three categories– sound, lyric and voice.  The lilting piano notes lure me in off the top, and Lily’s supple and raw vocalizing clinches the enchantment.  Every time.  I could listen to her vocalization after the bridge on repeat forever.  It’s like she’s singing in my ear, whispering, speaking directly to me while I lay on a couch crumpled in defeat.  She’s the wee Fairy of Trust lulling me to the belief that everything will be ok; her metaphoric arms first cradling and comforting me before picking me up, dusting me off, and guiding me to stand again on my own with more strength than I had before.  If I were to do a cover of a Lily C song, it would be this one!

Listening to Lily C’s music is like starting your day off with a good breakfast: being nourished with your favourite cereal fortified with familiarity and optimism and sweet wee Lily bits that beam up at you through the milk, coaxing you to have a glorious day no matter what comes your way.  I think Reaching For Sunlight is a masterwork and I recommend you check it out! www.lilyc.com.  Lily also has a pretty inspiring blog: Take A Deep Breath.

I look up to Lily and look forward to more music from her.
I also look forward to sharing the lineup with her at the upcoming Wonder Women V event August 8, 2012 at 7:30 at Celebration Square in Mississauga.  But more about that later…

…until then, may the music always play!

Love Kat
www.KatLeonard.com

40 Things I’ve Learned

40 Things I’ve Learned, in no particular order but the one they came to me in, by Kat Leonard:

1.  You won’t end up with the friends you started with.

2.  Keep friends in whose company you like yourself.

3.  I’m lucky.   Part of being lucky is realizing that you are.

4.  Love feels even better going out than coming in.

5.  My gut serves me best but my mind provides a worthy and engaging opponent.

6.  Self-Doubt will keep you humble if it doesn’t paralyze you.

7.  You can’t blame someone for not reacting the way you would.

8.  No one can make you feel any particular way without your permission.

9.  Maintain high hopes and low expectations.  Also, early is on time and on time is late!

10.  If you know enough to say sorry while you’re doing it, DON’T DO IT!  Duh!

11.  All that glitters can be worn at once.

12.  The heart is a muscle: work it hard, permit it recovery, and enjoy it getting stronger.

13.  There’s a right time for being right.

14.  Camping sucks.

15.  Oftentimes, freedom is a state of mind and captivity self-inflicted.

16.  Don’t sit too long.

17.  Stop eating when you’re full.

18.  Be stingy with your time.  It’s the most expensive thing you can waste.

19.  If it’s feasible and it doesn’t hurt anyone, it can’t be bad merely because it’s unconventional.

20.  Relentless hope and joy can be found in the facial expression of a Smurf.

21.  All things are equal at the end of the world.

22.  Carry sunscreen, dental floss and earplugs.

23.  Never pass up an opportunity to drink water, go to the bathroom or brush your teeth.

24.  If the day doesn’t feel right at first, take a nap and start over again.

25.  People remember both a buoyant smile and a droning whine long after it’s left the room, so execute the one you’d like to be remembered for most.

26.  The truth is equally the most exhilarating and effortless way to go.

27.  Live each chapter of your life to its fullest.  Don’t jump ahead and don’t try to back-edit.

28.  Courage is being unnerved and moving forward anyway.

29.  The answer is not at the bottom of a bag of chips.  But there seem to be quite a few good clues there.

30.  The second you think you’re unhappy, you are.

31.  Accept compliments promptly and gracefully.

32.  Listen to music.  Read books!  Read books that are more than a thousand pages long!  Immerse yourself in another world.

33.  It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.

34.  If you laugh well, your lines will be in the right place.

35.  That which you create is real.

36.  When the urge to dance hits, succumb to it regardless of where you are.  The likelihood of harm coming your way is highly unlikely.   Mmm… maybe not in a customs lineup.

37.  Participate all you can now, because you’re only going to get more tired as the years pass.

38.  We regret the things we don’t do more profoundly than the things we do.

39.  If you have to question or analyze it, they don’t love you the way you imagine they do.

40.  Kiss.  Hug.   Keep your socks dry.

www.KatLeonard.com