Courtney Dowe Interview


Courtney Dowe is a singer/songwriter from Baltimore. Despite critical acclaim and a weekly New York residency, her debut album Accomplice has passed under the radar in the States. Now signed to British label Counterpoint, her album has just been re-released with an additional track.

She has already received airplay from Radio One DJ Gilles Peterson, and the re-released album is on the playlist for KCRW radio in Santa Monica, LA. There are plans for a UK tour before the end of the year, and hitting the British summer festival circuit in 2011.

Epoch Times: How would you describe your music?

Courtney Dowe: My music began as a form of self-therapy, from a very young age. It grew into a place of refuge becoming a vocation or you could say a calling. I am very fortunate to be allowed to live my calling.

ET: Who are your musical inspirations?

CD: Tracy Chapman, Joan Armatrading, Jimi Hendrix, PJ Harvey (I like her fire and courage). Countless artists, my mother …

ET: I can honestly say that you are the first artist I have heard who has ever reminded me of Joan Armatrading …

CD: I adore Joan Armatrading. I have profound respect for her approach to the industry. It seems to me that she has managed to keep herself intact and still share her voice and perspective with the world. I also like the fact that she doesn’t over emphasise her sexuality in her public image. I cherish examples of female artists who manage to keep their clothes on.

ET: “My two-year-old son loves your song Children’s Anthem (not on the album).

CD: “That song has been produced specifically to be meaningful for children, from the sounds used to the simplicity of the words. In particular, it is reaching out to the orphans of persecuted Falun Gong practitioners in China. I hope that children who are looking for something that relates to their experiences will be able to take comfort from this song.

ET: Why specifically orphans of persecuted Falun Gong practitioners?

CD: Some years back I did volunteer work with the World Organization to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong, specifically about rescuing Falun Gong children. I was editing a report, and became deeply aware of the details of specific cases of hundreds of children who have been affected by this persecution. Over the years I have progressed from focusing on the personal events of my life to being more outspoken on things in the world that I want to raise awareness about.

ET: Your record label has described you as a protest singer. Are you happy with that title?

CD: Most definitely! I just hope I can live up to it!

ET: And you have a new single out …

CD: Yes, I’m impressed with the efficiency of the UK label, Counterpoint Records, in releasing and promoting the single so well, and really profoundly encouraged by the airplay on the BBC before the record has even been released. I think it’s to the credit of the BBC and Gilles [Peterson] and the UK that they were willing to expose racism in the US, willing to support that kind of message; I was personally touched by that.

ET: What are your experiences of racism in the US?

CD: Well, my experience began before I was born … It’s related to how my ancestors came to North America and the long-term effects of that mass abduction.

ET: Are you looking forward to coming to the UK?

CD: So much! So much! To be honest, I visualise the UK as the beginning of my serious musical career, with everything in the States just really building up to this.

ET: So, an American artist who doesn’t really get picked up in the States, comes over to England, makes it big, goes back and conquers America … you mentioned him in your inspirations …

CD: I feel a strong connection with Jimi Hendrix. I had the fortune to do some recording in Electric Lady Studios, it looks like a spaceship inside! I felt a strong kinship with his spirit, I could really feel his presence.

By James Poulter / Epoch Times Staff

The original Epoch Times article can be found here:

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