13 Feb 14
On the front page of iTunes for “New and Noteworthy” this month, newcomer singer-songwriter Belle is following her heart and conscience with her debut album.
Now a New Yorker, the native Australian brings a fresh voice to the pop scene with her honest lyrics and inspired sound reminiscent of the fiery cinders of artists like Joni Mitchell or Jewel.
Belle’s songwriting career began at the age of 15 when she turned to music and poetry to deal with her own complex teen relationships. Recognizing the importance of music in overcoming personal and social issues, Belle embarked on a musical “mission” to create songs that weren’t only enjoyable but also moving and important.
To this effect, her first album, “Never Too Late,” is a compilation of songs fueled by both a melodic and social substance, where Belle’s sometimes melancholy but always hopeful voice resonates on a deep, personal level.
“One Day He’ll See” was based on a poem I wrote when I was 15,” said Belle in a recent phone interview, sending a message of empathy to teenage girls who feel pressured to be physically intimate with their partners.
“I made mistakes as a teenager, and I wound up in a very sad state. In the song, I’m telling myself and others that you don’t need to do this to be loved. I want to give teenage girls the courage to say, ‘I’m going to wait.’”
Girl, take your time and never give up your pride
’Coz all that really counts is who you are inside
You’re beautiful, and one day he’ll see
You’re beautiful, and one day he’ll see
Beyond just a name, “Belle” is the representation of all that this artist stands for and hopes to inspire in others. “I want to represent beauty and goodness,” Belle affirms, like the true meaning of her name, “inner beauty.”
She also hopes to represent an alternative to the social expectations of surface beauty and the sexualization of women.
Belle did not always act from grace, and describes her teenage years as a “dark time.” The turning point came in 1999 when she had an epiphany that eventually led her to find solace in the meditation practice Falun Gong.
“I realized it was up to me to change my own life. I returned what I stole, made amends with people I hurt, and I was looking for something to help me improve.”
While Falun Gong helped Belle to make breakthroughs in her personal situation, it also left her feeling a strong obligation to take action against the persecution of its adherents in China, amid what she describes as “one of the greatest humanitarian crises of all time.”
“I benefited so much from the practice, so when I heard about the persecution, I wanted to do anything I could.”
Belle traveled to China in 2001 and, along with 34 other peaceful protesters, was illegally arrested for unfurling a banner on Tiananmen Square. The group was taken to a detention center for 24 hours, deported, and banned from returning to China for the next five years.
“It was scary,” Belle admitted of the experience, more than she had imagined.
It wasn’t until a few years later, however, that she deeply understood the value of that frightening ordeal.
“I heard a story about an illegally imprisoned Falun Gong practitioner finding a newspaper article about our protest. Knowing that people from around the world were helping gave that person the strength to go on. This was the greatest reward,” acknowledged Belle.
“That inspired me to write the song ‘Be The Voice.’”
Their souls have been lifted up
And beaten and raped, they keep love in their hearts
This genocide hidden behind the Great Wall
And forever their screams, forever their screams will be heard
Forever their screams will be heard
Come now my friend, the time has come to walk into the sun
Let’s be the voice, let’s be the voice of the future
She has since included the cause within her music and live shows. In 2009, Belle signed with Florida-based Ingenious Records, an independent record label catering specifically to artists who want to increase their fan base while maintaining a sense of artistic freedom.
Belle is performing live in New York venues over the next few months, with a U.S. tour in planning for early next year. See www.everythingbelle.com for dates and venues. Her debut album “Never Too Late” is available globally from iTunes.
By Masha Savitz / Epoch Times Staff
The original Epoch Times article can be found here: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n2/arts-entertainment/artist-profile-belle-60663.html