Top slide-guitar vocalist to rock Massey Hall Saturday night with
TORONTO, Nov. 28, 2013 /CNW/ - Rachelle van Zanten, regarded as Canada's
"best slide guitarist" by Randy Bachman, will take to the Massey Hall
stage in Toronto Saturday night to voice a gutsy environmental message
-- 'hey industry - don't mess with our waterways.'
"I sing about what I know. This whole situation with the pipelines, the
oil tankers, and the mining proposals that are coming out around my
home in northwest B.C. -- they are part of my life, and are consuming
my everyday thoughts."
"So I couldn't help but write about them," said van Zanten.
The Toronto Blues Society chose her, among several top Canadian women
musicians for its 27th annual "Women's Blues Revue", because of her extraordinary musical talent, but also because of her
growing reputation as a social activist for the environment.
Van Zanten sings about the unity amongst "unusual allies" -- farmers,
loggers, environmentalists, First Nations, rednecks and hippies -- all
working towards stopping the projects that threaten their livelihoods
"She's equally comfortable singing about the Tahltan women's fight for
the Sacred Headwaters in northern B.C., as she is pouring her heart out
in her songs about loss, joy…" said Toronto Blues Society co-founder,
One of van Zanten's Youtube music videos -- "My Country" -- is a meld of breath-taking mountain views, Aboriginal children, and
Tahltan First Nations blockading an industrial project, with some women
being taken away by RCMP in handcuffs.
Another of her songs -- "I fight for life" from her new CD "Oh Mother" -- was also inspired by these forces.
"The Tahltan, especially the women, are my mentors… when I wrote 'I
fight for life'… it was because of the Tahltan."
"I'm consumed with singing about our natural world, because I just
cannot imagine my daughter having a life where she isn't able to fish,
grow food, and drink water from our lake without being afraid," said
Van Zanten is one of only a small number of top Canadian musicians,
including Sarah Harmer, Blue Rodeo, Neil Young, Ron Sexsmith and Mae
Moore, who have used their musical voice in recent times to draw
attention to enviro-concerns.
Her latest green cause is a joint environmentalist - First Nations fight
against a controversial coal mine by London, Ontario's Fortune
The company wants to blow up a mountain, sacred to the Tahltan First
Nations, in order to carve out millions of tonnes of coal from an
open-pit mine. The issue flared into a crisis when Elders blockaded
the company's mining camp for several weeks in September.
"I was on the road, talking about it everywhere I played. I gave my
audiences an update about what was going on up there," said van Zanten.
The roots of her "environmental music" started much earlier --- when
Shell Oil tried unsuccessfully for years to build a gas extraction
project in the heart of her region's wild-salmon watersheds.
"The Sacred Headwaters was the beginning. I saw the effects of
corporate bullying on a community. When I saw the unity between the
Tahltan, communities and environmentalists forming a powerful force to
kick Shell out, it really lit my fire," said van Zanten.
The Massey Hall gig, she added, is a very special honour.
"It was on my list [to do] before I die. So it's pretty cool. I feel
it's a true life accomplishment."
On Sunday, the day after her concert, the artist will participate in a
public presentation called "In This Together."
The free public event from 4pm to 6pm at eco-chic Patagonia clothing store at 500 King West,
will explore how environmentalists, communities and First Nations are
banding together to fight eco-threats in Canada. The Sunday event is
put on by the Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition.
SOURCE: Rachelle van Zanten
For further information:
TO BOOK AN INTERVIEW:
Rachelle van Zanten
cell: (250) 692-0642
Executive Director, Skeena Watershed Conservation Coalition