Kyra Shaughnessy

About

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For those of you who’ve read my performers bio and want to know more about me…here it goes!

MUSICAL CAREER

With over 10 years of stage experience, I’m only now beginning to consider myself a “seasoned performer” and self-made independent artist. I’ve released several independent albums and am currently on the verge of releasing another one, thanks to a grant from the CALQ (Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec) and a collaboration with producer Dany Placard.

My first introduction to music was through the sacred chants of multiple traditions sung in guided meditations at my mother’s retreat center, Heartroot Farm (based on the land where I grew up). I learned very young to respect the healing powers of the voice. My music has for many years been an outlet for the wellspring and diversity of experiences accumulated throughout my life thus far. It focuses on reconnecting listeners with their hearts, dreams and a lived experience of interconnection.

397522_10152322328836202_1465305942_nMy musical career has led me to travel across continents and oceans, by land, air and sea. Being thrown into many an unpredictable situation as a young woman traveling alone has led me to even further develop my intuitive insights into human nature, not to mention problem-solving and survival skills. Despite the common belief that it’s impossible to live “only” from one’s art in the current economy without taking on a full-time day job, I’ve been doing just that for over 5 years now.

I began dedicating the majority of my time to performance in 2009 after the release of my first EP, One Step Closer (I had already recorded two DIY spoken word albums but without much hoopla around their existence ;). This bare-bone recording of songs influenced by Montreal’s political scene of the time was a precursor to my self-titled album, released in 2010, which included full arrangements in a variety of styles.

These albums led to a couple of solo cross-Canada tours (all done by public transportation! Many thanks to the ViaRail Onboard Entertainment program…) and a plethora of performance experiences, including a collaborative song-writing workshop in Ireland which led to shows in Denmark, Austria, Germany and of course, Ireland.

With my second full-length album, Waiting for the Light (2013), I tried to harness the energy and inspiration of many years’ travel and discovery.My lyrics are a call to transformation on all levels and a reminder, to myself and others, of the power of personal choice.

After launching the album I was accepted to the renowned francophone school for singer-songwriters, l’École Nationale de la Chanson in Granby, Quebec. I spent a year honing my craft as a songwriter craft in my second
language with a group of ten other artists, graduating in the summer of 2014.
In spring 2014 I took part in an amazing pilot project for collaborative songwriting between First Nations and Quebecois songwriters which took place in the Atikamekw community of Manawan. Organized by the Sherbrooke-based organization Peace Partners, the week-long songwriting retreat was an inspiration to continue focusing my work around peacemaking and transformation. During this retreat I also met Dany Placard with whom I’ve now produced a fourth album (to be released May 2016).

Over time it’s become clear that along with music my passion lies in providing others with the insights and tools to creatively move their lives forward.

MY BACKGROUND

My roots are firmly anchored in a worldview and lifestyle based on the natural principles of interconnection. On a purely factual level, I was born into a multicultural heritage (Trinidadian- East Indian-Irish-Scottish-English-Scandinavian-Canadian) and sense of “global citizenry” that makes separation between peoples seem all too contrived. I live in the land between belonging and alienation that is home to many people of mixed-heritage. As a result, my art and life have been driven towards themes of peacemaking and the recognition of interconnection on a personal and global scale.

My early work as a spoken word poet focused around these themes and led to my twice being nominated as one of 5 Montreal poets chosen to take part in the CBC National poetry slams, as well as listing among Montreal’s top ten poets two years running by The Montreal Mirror (2006, 2007).

Both of my parents are alternative healing practitioners. As a result, I’ve been participating in group counseling processes, therapy workshops and healing ceremonies for as long as I can remember. My early education included introduction to the full spectrum of spiritual practices and traditions, not to mention many different views and approaches to human psychology and transformation of trauma.
tree prayer smallImmersed in this healing environment I kind of incidentally developed and practiced the arts of deep listening, compassion and emotional intelligence.

EDUCATION

Another big influence in my life and work is that I didn’t go to school until age 15. I was essentially homeschooled from grades 1 to 3 and from then on had a largely self-directed, passion-driven education. My three siblings and I grew up engaged in the active, exciting life of living on the land that was (and is) home. Far from being socially isolated (a common stigma associated with self-directed learning) our education allowed us to be exposed to people of all ages and backgrounds.

Everything from animal husbandry to maple syrup production to making herbal remedies, learning French and Spanish, interning in the production of two operas and reading philosophy and psychology texts was on the agenda. The fundamental lessons were those of free thought, self-direction and a firm belief that we have the power to create the realities we wish to live in.

At 15 I chose to attend M.I.N.D. high school in Montreal as a way of connecting with and understanding the reality of the majority of my peers and, I hoped, to be further stimulated in my discovery of The World. I then enrolled in a two-year program at Dawson College concentrated on international relations and political science, North-South Studies. This provided me with a new perspective on the broad-scale systems managing and “producing” mainstream society.

Moving from a rural upbringing to an urban environment also gave me an understanding of the various pros and cons of city versus country living. It allowed me to experience firsthand the effects of disconnection from nature and lack of access to land that so many are forced to accept.

 

Choosing a non-consumerist lifestyle, a constant development of social networks and “gift economies,” and a belief in the power of personal choice, manifestation and abundance are a big part of what enable me to “make it work”. I feel that my roots as a self-directed learner provided a framework for self-motivation and effective time management as well as an ability to compassionately recognize my own limitations and seek support when necessary. The life of a self-employed artist also implies a lot of learning about stress management, cultivating balance and social “safety nets” (What? You mean actually needing other people?), learning how to receive gracefully, non-attachment, flexibility and the art of breathing.

COMMUNITY BUILDING, PERMACULTURE AND SUSTAINABLE DESIGN

On the social front, I’ve lived in community spaces my entire life; from the healing center where I grew up to various co-ops and collective houses in Montreal and elsewhere, I’ve come to intimately know the many gifts and challenges of community living. I’ve been involved in many a group processes of negotiation, consensus and mediation of all ilks.

Some of my more “quantifiable” experiences in sustainable design and community building include: a year of classes and workshops with the School for Designing a Society and Patch Adams’ Gesundheit! Institute;  a year’s internship with the Urbana Permaculture Guild; a Permaculture Design Certification with Starhawk; a month-long Eco Village Design Training for Trainers at Findhorn Ecovillage in Scotland.

Returning to Montreal, I helped co-found the Montreal Permaculture Guild, a consensus-based collective offering by-donation permaculture workshops and vegan meals once a week. I was also involved in Gaia University and completed a year of action-learning in Integrative Eco-Social Design in 2009 – 2010.

I continue to be involved in the upkeep and management and land-guardianship of my family retreat center, Heartroot Farm.

 

It is not without profound gratitude to all those who have supported my work as an independent artist that my creative path continues to shift and evolve – projects abound and life goes on! I feel truly blessed to do the work that I do and to learn and grow with it everyday.