Shakura S’Aida is returning to Penticton’s Dream Music Festival with a changed mind.
Since last year’s performance, S’Aida, a writer, singer, actor and more has been travelling Europe and recently returned from a trip through a Toronto Arts Council writing grant to the Caribbean island of Martinique.
“For the first time in 28 years I was able to go away, be by myself and concentrate on being creative,” S’Aida said.
She stayed in the small fishing village of Sainte-Luce, taking in the culture and the diverse musical atmosphere.
“It wasn’t a big city, I didn’t want to be in a big city or somewhere where there were a lot of tourists. There was music almost every single night somewhere,” S’Aida said.
She was there for the week before Carnival, putting even more music into the air than normal.
“The music was phenomenal,” S’Aida said. “It was this mixture of jazz, blues, bluegrass, calypso, African, Haitian. There were all these different mixes in it that were really inspiring to me and the people were dancing all the time so I spent a lot of my time in Martinique in the ocean, but also dancing a lot. It was really inspiring.”
Listening to instruments like clarinets and accordions in a brand new context was mind opening for her, leading S’Aida to a productive writing process.
Becoming a mother for the first time 28 years ago, S’Aida was able to enjoy being on her own as a refreshing new experience.
“Twenty-eight years ago my life switched from being about me as young adult to suddenly being a wife, a parent to a child and then preparing for the real world as it were,” S’Aida said. “To be able to be away and not have to worry about (my kids) in the same way was huge. Then being in a place that was full of people of colour. Populated by people of colour in all different positions and in all different lifestyles, that was huge for me.”
Having to speak French full time helped S’Aida tap into parts of her creative mind in English.
“I love saying that, it changed my mind. It allowed me to see not just myself differently, hugely differently, but also my world around me. A lot of love in Martinique, a lot of affection between family members, a lot of appreciation of family and that’s always been really huge to me,” S’Aida said.
Whether she wanted to or not, much like many others, S’Aida has been immersed in the American experience for the past year. Being far away from the social and political spheres of North America was rewarding on its own.
“To be in a place where if I didn’t want to, I didn’t have to be connected to news or social media and the people there certainly weren’t connected to it in the same way. And they certainly weren’t connected to North America. So it allowed me to just refrain from thinking about everybody else and re-connect to the real,” S’Aida said.
The logical end point is a new album from the writing she was able to get done, but S’Aida said what more importantly came out of the process was finding out more about herself.
“I haven’t written for an album for, it will be six years this year. The last album I recorded was in 2011. I hadn’t felt the need, the desire or the pull, the hunger to do another album, I really haven’t. People have been asking me and I just kept saying, I’ll do it when I feel like it,” S’Aida said. “This is the first time I actually felt like writing and creating and I can see where the music goes. I have a better idea about how I want to articulate myself.”
S’Aida is excited to return to the Dream Music Festival after her first appearance last year.
“So much fun, and being able to do the same show twice, when do you get a chance to do that? Each show was different, but it was better the second day because we formed a bond with each other, but at the same time we discovered a lot of new things on the first night,” S’Aida said.
She is eager to return to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre on May 12 and 13. Full line up and ticket information is available at www.thedreammusicfestival.ca.