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August 18-31
VOL.14 ISSUE. 26
HOME / STORY

Love, Loss And Anger

Sonia Stanger
Published Thursday May 12, 06:18 pm
Rheaume looks both inward and at society in Holding Patterns

Amanda Rheaume
The Bassment
Wednesday 25

For Ottawa’s Amanda Rheaume, making music that matters is more important than ever. On tour now for her fourth full-length album, Holding Patterns, the singer-songwriter says that every time she stands on stage, she knows she’s got an opportunity to say something important — something that might make a difference.

In the past, Rheaume has performed for Canadian troops overseas and those shows had an impact on her. “It made me realize that I wanted to sing about something that’s important and that had a message,” she says.

Holding Patternsis an album rich in messages.

Known for her powerful voice and personal lyrics, Rheaume gets vulnerable like never before on Holding Patterns. While her last album, the Juno-nominated Keep A Fire, centred largely on family stories told to her by her late grandfather, Eugene Rheaume, this latest record looks inward. Songs like “Time to Land” and “Blood from a Stone” draw their observations from the end of Rheaume’s stagnant and unhealthy long-term relationship.

The progression from family history to working to know one’s self was a natural one in her mind, says Rheaume.

“The real reason I’m doing music, and why this is important, is to connect with people,” she says. “And for them to connect to themselves.”

#MMIWG

If the goal, both of this album and of her music generally, is connection, Rheaume has decidedly succeeded. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in “Red Dress”, the first single off Holding Patterns. “Red Dress” reflects on the crisis of Canada’s missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and it’s highly critical of the culture that blames women for what is done to them.

“The perspective of that song is really to raise awareness of how these women are discriminated against even after they’ve had things happen to them,” says Rheaume.

“Red Dress” is a song she’d long wanted to write but didn’t know how to start. But after Rheaume’s disgust with the Cindy Gladue trial — a horrific circus in which the dead Métis sex worker’s mangled genitals were hauled into the courtroom as gruesome evidence before, unsurprisingly, her alleged assailant, a Caucasian man, was found not guilty — she couldn’t stay silent.

The video, which features a beautiful performance by dancer Aria Evans, is both chilling and emotional. Chantal Kreviazuk, who was the winner of the 2014 Juno Humanitarian Award, is also featured as a vocalist on the single. The sweet and mournful melding of the two women’s voices is a powerful metaphor for the way the mistreatment, marginalization and murders of indigenous peoples have brought people across the country together.

Kreviazuk’s support on the song means a lot, says Rheaume.

“It just goes to show that we’re all really feeling this, and I think that people sometimes feel at a loss of what to do, how to help,” says Rheaume. “But it’s just one thing at a time.”

Proceeds from “Red Dress” — available online at the usual places — go to the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Safety and Violence Prevention Program. Rheaume says supporting this organization, which sorely needs it, was an easy decision.

“It all makes a difference,” she says.

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