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Nancy Ruth: An Interview
(Published: November 25, 2020)

Nancy Ruth cannot be easily classified, and in this era of generic, predictable pop music, that is a compliment to her artistry and high standards. Ruth has the creative skills to balance jazz, folk, and World music, even sprinkling them with Latin influences. It's a mix that speaks of today's diverse tastes that know no geographic boundaries. The following is in an interview with Ruth.

Q: It has to be asked: How are you doing during this pandemic? How has it affected your musical career?

A: I've spent my life on the road, always packing, catching flights, organizing and managing my bands and tours. So it's disorienting having my live performance career come to a screeching halt, as my mind and body have been programmed toward the discipline of performing. It's confusing to adjust to this new gig-less world. On one hand, it's a healthy break for the body, but on the other hand, it's depressing to have invested a lifetime into an industry that no longer exists. It's forced me to explore new creative outlets.

One project I've been working on is a documentary about how music unites. It's centered around a musical project I put together in Morocco last year, after 18 years of travel there. As musicians, we're incredibly fortunate to connect with other cultures through music, transcending all of those differences that can create unnecessary tensions, such as gender, religion, language, culture and politics. When you're making music, none of that matters. So, it's a great unifier, and from there, doors open.

Q: I'm sure you've been asked this before, but for music listeners who aren't familiar with you, what was your initial motivation in creating music?

A: Music creation is a natural impulse to those of us who are born musicians - there is no motivation needed. It's an intrinsic need, to create music.

It's the form of expression and that fulfills me as a person. It also gives me the opportunity to play and connect with people from so many different cultures around the world, and that is a tremendous gift.

Q: Who are the first artists that moved you the most?

A: Chopin, Led Zeppelin, Sarah Vaughan, Paco de Lucia.

Q: Has your artistic vision changed since you began? If so, how?

A: Travel changes your perspective of the world, making you realize there are many approaches to life, and to sound. My creative vision led me to Spain from Canada so I followed my instincts here, scouting out players and studios along the way. It's challenging enough to put an original music project together in your home terrain, but coming to another country where things are done very differently and you're an outsider is very hard. It takes a lot of time and patience to cultivate trust and confidence here, especially when creating something that doesn't have a clear genre attached to it - it's daunting. The experience has made me stronger because I took the risk and it has paid off, in terms of my own confidence and belief in following my path. It's also incredibly gratifying to create new music from nothing, and bring it to international stages and feel the audience's response.

Q: In what genre do you see yourself fitting in? It can be more than one.

A: My music sounds like my life - a melodic travel log of Spanish rhythms doused with jazz harmony, pop/ rock song sensibility, and adventure stories. The critics use the term World/ Jazz.

Q: What do you hope people will experience with your music?

A: When I see the visceral, physical gut response from the audience, and they later tell me "I don't know what kind of music that was, but wow, that was great," I feel satisfied. I also remember one night when a doctor came up to me after a show and said "I lost a patient earlier today and just needed to hear some music. Listening to tonight's performance put me back together. Thank you." These kinds of comments help me to continue to do what I do.
I also hope the music and the story behind it will inspire people to take more risks: to follow their instincts, to question everything, to disconnect from the constant noise and re-connect with themselves. I think most people have a yearning to do something they haven't given themselves full permission to explore. In my case it was to sell my Vancouver apartment and follow my instincts to Spain, and then follow my voice to where it wanted to lead me musically. I didn't know anyone or have anything lined up, so it was indeed a risky decision that went against well-meaning advice from music industry experts, family and friends. However, I knew I had to do it, and I'm so glad I did. Giving life to the music in my head and discovering so much about the world, and myself, along the way has given me a great sense of personal relief and confidence - it's so satisfying when you follow your gut and it works out.

Q: Do you finance your music yourself?

A: For most of my career, I financed my music projects and education by gigging, constantly... trying to find that balance between doing commercial gigs while maintaining my artistic vision and all that goes along with it - writing and arranging, recording, photo and video shoots, promotion, pitching and organizing tours and logistics, etc. Quite honestly, that's a burn-out situation for the voice and the mind, but I pushed through. I've had support from fans, but I've never received a government grant.

More Information: http://nancyruth.com

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