OUR GREAT MINDS

    by Tina Olivero

    Tara Shannon Answers: What does songwriting have to do with care planning?

    Canadian award-winning singer and songwriter Tara Shannon has released a new single called ‘Say’ in partnership with Advance Care Planning in Canada to support the #SpeakUp campaign.

    The Advance Care Planning in Canada #SpeakUp campaign is designed to help raise awareness and provide support around embracing hard conversations about palliative care.

    You can listen to ‘Say” single here

    The Advance Care Planning Initiative in Canada, led by Canadian Hospice Palliative Association (CHPCA) and popular Canadian singer-songwriter Tara Shannon is an initiative serves to engage Canadians in having conversations about future health care needs in the event you are not able to speak for yourself.

    Advance Care Planning is about ensuring your values, beliefs and wishes are respected. It’s about how we care for each other. “SAY” provides a wonderful compassionate way to start the conversation.

    Tara’s single ‘Say’, co-written with Hayley McLean, has a soulful and compassionate melody that lends itself well to the goal of the campaign; to help bridge a communications barrier between loved ones and the discussion around starting advance care planning.

    It’s easy to assume the care wishes in the event of an accident or illness but taking the time to speak up and talk about it makes the difference down the road. “It can feel daunting to have those kinds of discussions…almost like we might be tempting fate…but when the care wishes are known beforehand, it really does make it easier for your loved ones and healthcare professionals when the time comes,” says singer-songwriter Tara Shannon.

    “When I was approached to work with ACP on this campaign I actually kind of chuckled because I knew my music was on the sadder side but didn’t think I had reached the sadness of death yet! But that’s what got me intrigued because this isn’t about death at all. It’s about encouraging conversation to soften the edges, to inspire deeper connection and encourage a safe space for everyone to ask for what they need. I can write songs about that all day long.”

    The single ‘Say’ is streaming on  iTunesAmazon, DeezerGoogle Play, and Spotify. 

    5 STEPS TO CARE PLANNING

    Advance Care Planning community created a YouTube video to help direct questions users have about the program and where to start in an easy 5 step tutorial.

    The 5 Steps Include
    1. Think about what’s right for you. What are my values, beliefs and understanding about end of life care and specific medical procedures? What’s important to me?
    2. Learn about medical procedures. There are many medical procedures that can be offered at the end of life. Some may improve your quality of life, others may only prolong life. Different people have different thoughts about these procedures.
    3. Decide who will be your substitute decision maker? Choose someone who would honour and follow your wishes, and is able to speak for you if you can’t speak for yourself.
    4. Talk about your wishes. Talk with your substitute decision maker, family members and friends who are important to you. Tell your health care team – and if you have a written plan, share it with them.
    5. Record your wishes. It’s a good idea to write down your wishes or make a recording or video. There are also forms available in most provinces and territories.

    The Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association in conjunction with Advance Care Planning have created national workbooks around advance palliative care support. The workbook includes information about advance care planning and will guide users through the steps of making a plan and a way to share your wishes for future healthcare, and to name a loved one who can speak for someone, if they can’t speak for themselves.

    Visit advancecareplanning.ca to use the free online interactive workbook or print a copy to work through the questions with your loved ones.

    TARA SHANNON SPEAKS WITH THE OGM

    Tara Shannon a songwriter, an artist, an entrepreneur, a mom of seven (5 boys and 2 girls), a lover of music, business, golf, and travel. She’s passionate about working in the music business in particular helping other artists/writers develop their careers. Here’s what she had to say about her life in the music business:

    1. What got you into music and song writing?

    I started learning piano at around seven years old and remembering loving every minute. I have always had a feeling of being at home when I sit at a piano. It was my safe place. I continued to study the Royal Conservatory and then went on to study jazz as a saxophone player at McGill University. I originally wanted to train in Music Therapy and work with autistic children. But my life took a different path and I started my family very young. I also feel in love with songwriting after writing my first song for my cousin’s wedding. Once I wrote that song and performed it, there was no going back. I wanted to be a songwriter and performing artist and hopefully help others in that way instead.

    2. What are the key messages you like to get out in your music?

    As a professional songwriter I write from and for all kinds of perspectives. Especially if I’m writing for another artist, I try to take on their voice and their story. When I write a song that feels like a Tara Shannon cut, it’s usually because the song has a message of positivity, empowerment or healing in some way. My own lyrics lean toward inspiration but are always still country in some way because if it tells a great story, then it feels country to me. That’s what country music is really about…a great story that points to the heart of something.

    3. I see that you enjoy co-writing music. How does that process work?

    Co-writing is a really valuable experience. I didn’t come around to co-writing until a few years ago. As a Canadian Indie singer-songwriter, co-writing was never really encouraged or modelled to me. It wasn’t until I started spending time in Nashville that I learned about co-writing and it changed me as a music creator. It was really nerve racking at first, I was very shy and insecure about my writing ability. But I had amazing mentors and guides to help me develop that part of my craft. So now at times I still write alone for more of a cathartic experience to process something I am going through, but mostly I co-write. When you have a network of co-writers that you connect with it’s really special. It’s kind of a sacred thing to bring something brand new into the world with someone else. It’s pretty special.

    4. What is your vision for your music career?

    To survive! Lol the road as an Indie artist is a challenging one. But very fulfilling at the same time. My vision remains the same….maintain a financially sustainable career that allows me to continue doing what I am doing because I can’t imagine doing anything else. 

    I have shifted what success means to me…it’s no longer about what my career looks like to others from the outside. It’s about what I fill my days with, how much joy it brings me and how I maintain an overall sense of balance and connectedness with myself and the source of creative energy.

    5. Where are you from?  

    I was born and raised mostly in Montreal, Quebec until my family moved to Glengarry County, Ontario for a few years where I graduated from highschool in Alexandria. Right after graduation I was married and we settled in Russell, Ontario just outside of Ottawa where we raised seven children – we have lived here for almost 27 years. We love it here, it’s a wonderful little village. Although we just got a Tim Horton’s so I’m not sure we are technically little anymore lol.

    6. What’s a day in the life of Tara like, musically speaking.

    I usually start the day with tasks running my label Willow Sound Records and working on projects with our artists and writers. Then I do a bunch of Tara Shannon admin stuff or prep for live shows (which is all live streaming these days), work some promotion or have meetings. I always fit in some creative outlet, either a creative writing blog post or songwriting session. I like to do something creative to help balance out the business brain. And I try to get my walk in or some kind of exercise. 

    7. What is the hope and dream for this song?

    When I’m hired by a client to write a song like this one, the hope is always that the client is happy with what we created for them. In this case they were over the moon. Which is why it led to a full release and promotion as a single. My new hope for this song is that it will encourage conversation among Canadians about end of life care. A topic we tend to shy away from but is so important and so helpful to your loved ones and health care providers when the time comes. Mostly though, as a songwriter, the best feeling is knowing someone connected with the song and that it moved them. That is the ultimate hope.

    8. What’s the song writing process look like for you?

    My process is different depending on the scenario. If I’m in a room with other pro writers and we are writing the “song in the room” or aiming for a major label cut, I tend to lean toward the lyric but if others are strong at lyric too, I kind of fill in on the melody side. Co-writing is about making the combination of creators in the room work really well in order to write the best song possible. If I am hired by a client, such as the case with the song “SAY” to bring their message to life in song form, I spend time getting to know the organization and really absorbing what they are all about and what they are trying to communicate. And then I reach out to co-writers that I feel will compliment that effort. From there, the producer becomes very important as far as wrapping that song in the right combination of sounds.

    9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years from now.

    I hope in 10 years from now I am doing exactly what I’m doing now! But actually allowed to do live shows again. With humans in the room and lots of after show hugs.

    10. Learning music is a life-long process. What can you say to others about practice, discipline and commitment to making music.

    Learning music is certainly a process. Learning the music business even more so. I’d say follow what you love doing…discipline is important but if you’re aligned with what brings you the most joy, you won’t need to focus on discipline so much. The drive will be there naturally. Developing a career as an artist is a long game, you really need to love what you are doing to stay in it for the long haul. I’d also say the best place to focus is you. In North America everyone is using the same 12 notes, the same chord colours, the same instruments, the same 26 letters of the English alphabet, the only unique piece of the equation is you, the artist. How YOU hear those 12 notes, how YOU put those letters togethers and how YOU colour that melody. The journey is about remembering who you are and where you come from and allowing that to be expressed through your music without the static of your ego. When you’ve dialed that in, there is no greater experience or feeling of fulfillment. 

    12. What’s your take on Newfoundland?

    Oh my, I have a love affair with Newfoundland and the East Coast in general. We took the kids camping in Cape Breton for many, many years. Sadly, that’s as close to Newfoundland as I’ve been – if you don’t count the times I have seen Come From Away (I’ve cried every time). I have dreamt of being screeched in (even practiced) and playing the George Street Festival…camping in Gros Morne….I have daydreamed my visits there in such detail that I’m afraid my eventual real trip might fall short lol. Oh and I of course had Alan Doyle as my personal tour guide in all of these visions. I am so looking forward to having the chance to visit. I am drawn to the culture, I love how music is woven into everyday life and is the thread that ties the people together. Every Newfoundlander I have met exudes a spirit of warmth and welcome. I will savour every moment when I get the chance to visit!

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