My love affair with music began in grade 2 with the Beatles. I immediately formed my own cover band and we performed around the school yard with badminton rackets. We managed to create quite a scene and embarrass my older brother. This humble beginning led to a decade of singing into my hair brush in front of the mirror. I naturally sang with passion and at a ridiculous volume. Since this loudness brought me much attention, it took another decade to move along and start to learn about dynamics and range.
I was inspired by the Beatles, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Joni Michell, CSNY and Janis Joplin. Beginning in High School I embarked on a long career of acoustic/electric endeavors. These days I enjoy singing jazz and writing songs on guitar and piano. It’s been about 40 years since I first stepped on to a stage.
My 20’s were spent in back to the land mode, singing in rock and pop cover bands, writing two chord songs and doing yoga. I was invited to the Playhouse in Fredericton around l980 or so to perform with Peter Miller. The CBC recorded that event and over the years I got to record a few shows with CBC. I met Mike Hanlon and we played at the Atlantic Folk Festival. Mike and I have played together in many groups over the years. One of the most enjoyable experiences of that decade was fronting the theatrical rock group “Airtight.” I learned a lot from these boys and have many fond memories.
In my 30’s I experienced a wonderful collaboration with my husband Larry Belyea and we created Jazmine. This was very good. At the age of four Jazmine learned to sing all the songs on Jennifer Warren’s “Famous blue raincoat” She still loves Leonard Cohen. One day–after becoming morbidly fascinated with a song where the fire and Joan of Arc have a dialogue— she ran upstairs to ask me what a “swollen appetite” was.
In my mid-thirties, I attracted a backer and we spent a few months trying to get me into the big world. I got to hang out with Alana Myles for a couple of days. They were going to change my name to ‘Debra Shade” because a specialist in the business said that you must have three syllables in your name. I had some airplay with a pop song that was very ’80’s and was a little bit relieved when that business was over. At this point I decided to grow up become something sensible and after a year and half of nursing school I revised that decision and left the program– before someone got hurt. This was a time of release bursting with creative energy. “Adshade Cafe” was a trio with Paul Mortimer and Linda Boyer. We drank chamomile tea by the bucket – until I found out that Paul hated it — and we worked away at the songs for” The Thunder God’s Wife.” They helped create much beauty. Linda was the mistress of harmonies and Paul ‘s offerings — like the acoustic guitar part on “Jason” made for magic. It was good. We were invited to perform at the Stan Roger’s tribute along with many other East Coast performers. I choose ” Harris and the Mare” and “The Giant”. Then I got whisked away by promises, promoters and inevitable tragedy.
I recorded a second Cd –“Alchemy” –with Lloyd Hanson, a gifted producer with a rare combination of massive intelligence and spontaneous creativity. The theme for this recording was Wisdom Traditions. In researching the various world religions, I discovered the culture of awareness and compassion of Eastern Philosophy and this changed everything.
In my 40’s, I joined with harpist Judy Kamminga and we had a whirlwind of touring, recording and friendship. We played at the storytelling festival in Whitehorse and down into the Eastern states as far as “The Point” in Philadelphia. “Elemental Grace” was the 2nd ECMA nomination for me. We experienced a creative burst that took us into another recording,” Reverie.” Mike Doherty was the producer and later I collaborated with him on “Into Thunder”. I was inspired by a book called “Zen Guitar” that Lloyd gave me and it took me up a notch from my sloppy three chord guitar playing. Mike was the amazing bandmaster of the “Adshade Band” for quite a few years, with guitarist Mike Hanlon, bassist Darrell Williams and drummer Karl Gans. We had many many fine weekends in St. Andrews playing at the Tidal Pool and staying at Salty Towers.
In my 50’s I made it back to the land with Larry. We found a log cabin on a ridge looking over the Kennebecasis. We work in the fields and the woods and my greatest accomplishment is hand feeding a blue jay. I spent a winter here recording a project inspired by dancer Andrea Scott and a book entitled Qualities. It became spare in instrumentation with layered vocalizations. I experienced an adventure singing Jazz with the Kindreds. They were patient and kind and I enjoyed a new experience. Most recently I’ve been working with poet Clyde Wray. We are merging our works, poetry and music. This fall we are joined by the magical dancer Kelli Wray. In another area, Jazmine and I went to Italy for Yoga teacher training. I’ve been enjoying teaching yoga, mostly to friends. I would love to somehow combine music and the Yoga path. Maybe in my 60’s. Last year I received a Creation Grant from ArtsNB to compose 12 songs inspired by NB Poets. I am delving into some great poetry and having fun ricocheting off these works, hopefully creating something new. In this ongoing project I’m being mentored by producer Lloyd Hanson and have been undertaking the bed tracks on my own. I’ve been spending far too much time with a percussion track pounding into my head.