Bandcamp: https://paulaevekirman.bandcamp.com/album/losstending (link will be live on May 7)
During March and April of 2021, I took part in “Soloss,” a community care network initiative developed through a partnership between REACH Edmonton, InWithForward (a Vancouver social design agency), and the City of Edmonton’s RECOVER Wellbeing initiative. The team was prototyping the “Losstender” position in Edmonton, based on ethnographic and other research by all of the partners over the previous three years with street-involved Edmontonians.
“Losstenders” are a constellation of folks who open up spaces for moments of grief to also be moments for connection. Basically, we are artists who sat with and spoke to “Sharers” who told us their stories of life and loss. Thought of another way, a “Losstender” is kind of like the friendly bartender to whom people bare their souls. Three unique people chose to share their stories with me, but I was there to do more than sit and listen. I created a song for each of them as a lasting artifact of our encounters and to help them on their healing journeys, through feeling heard and helping to address unmet needs through song.
For more information about Soloss: soloss.ca
Cover art: This is a photo of the top of my mother’s headstone, with memory stones. When one visits the grave of a departed loved one in Judaism, we leave a stone to mark that we were there.
1 –“ To All Who Are Concerned” (4:00)
I met a woman who shared her experiences being part of the 60s scoop, adopted by a white, religious Christian family. She was very specific about what she wanted her song to capture about her, almost like an anthem for her now being able to live authentically as a transgender woman. What struck me the most about her, was her positive energy despite having a very hard life. She radiated confidence and pride.
2 – “Long-Lost Friend” (2:57)
This is a story about a young boy who would sing his grandmother to sleep every night in Cree, until his language was taken from him at residential school. We also did some jamming. Soloss was able to get a guitar for him, and he played for the first time in 30 years. I would always wear my Johnny Cash shirt when we met, because he’s a big fan. I wrote him a song with simple enough chords that he could be able to play. When I presented the song to him, he nodded and said, “Yup – that’s my story.”
3 – “Close My Eyes” (3:09)
The sharer of this story reminisced about the traditional life that he lost after being dragged away to residential school. He’s a man of few words, but of strong faith. We would pray together, in English and in Cree. When I presented this song to him, he said he was deeply moved.