Curran’s not Haunted by her roots

By Ryan Pike

In most creative endeavours, an oft-quoted piece of advice is, “Write what you know.” It’s difficult to write about heartache, adventure or any other circumstance without having first experienced it. For Newfoundland’s Amelia Curran, a recent performer at the Calgary Folk Music Festival, her musical career was directly influenced by her circumstances, as evidenced on her latest album, Hunter, out now on Six Shooter Records.

“I always wrote, I wrote plays and poetry, and that was always the decided path for me,” says Curran. “I started playing music out of necessity because I was really poor and quite young, living on the street, and I started busking, which is funny because then you could turn it around and say, ‘You got in it for the money, for the change.’ Yeah, I did. It’s one of those things that just stuck.”

Curran has emerged as part of a rich tradition of Atlantic Canadian songwriters. She notes that her personal experiences have informed her writing and made her style a bit different from her regional contemporaries.

“In the Maritimes and the Atlantic, there’s a lot of storytelling songwriters,” she explains. “I don’t think I’m really a storytelling songwriter. I think I’m more of an analytical songwriter. Certainly if I had not had those hardships of life — poverty and certain kinds of emotional suffering and mental suffering — there’s no way I could write about what I write about now. So in a way you look back and you’re thankful for hardships and hard times.”

While Curran performs quite a bit in Eastern and Atlantic Canada, she finds trips to other places allow her to discover new things about the realm of folk music. They also show her how much of her Newfoundland roots seep into her music.

“I don’t realize what kind of traditional music has snuck in before I get to a place like Calgary where our cultures and our histories are so different and we share this country,” says Curran. “I don’t realize how my landscape gets in there — the rock in the water and the salt gets in there — and I do sound more like an Atlantic Canadian than I realize. You don’t realize even things about yourself until you’re in a different culture.”

When asked to describe herself, despite her colourful history in life and music, Curran was able to sum herself up in simple terms.

“Well, I’m from Newfoundland. That’s the most important thing about me. You know, it’s not complicated. I’m from Newfoundland and I’m a passionate writer and that really wraps it up,” she declares.

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