Allison Crowe has to be one of the most original, feisty, and endearing current musical talents that Canada has engendered. Her music smacks of rock, gospel, jazz, grunge, classical, blues, folk and soul; and she makes it all her own. Hailing from Nanaimo, British Columbia, Crowe is now making her energy and unique personality known internationally, including the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom.
This entertainer started playing music at age five with her piano. Finding her groove in music, Crowe dabbled in band at school and drums at home. She wove together lyrics for a song on guitar at the age of thirteen. This first piece, called "Fade Away,” was first performed when she was fourteen.
Crowe’s profession of 11 years (she is now 25 years old) has been based on her vision of artistic expression, commitment to her individuality, and her love of music. This path is not an easy one when the contemporary music industry is, "about image and what you can sell.”
In the contemporary music industry, there is a lot of pressure put on artists to sell-out to a major label. The contract gives the label company carte blanche rights to image, songs, distribution, and whether you sit on the shelf while another, "perceived as hotter” performer is actively marketed or not.
"I need control of what I do,” Crowe comments. "I don’t like the idea of not writing my own songs.”
Crowe’s commitment to her music, band (drummer and strings player), and manager, Adrian du Plessis has had her turn down a music contract with a major label, Bardic Records. These negotiations in 2003 made her "lose momentum” in the ever-pressing need to tour, record and write.
Instead of going mainstream, Crowe produces under her own record label, Rubenesque Records, and is vigilant in pursuing her dream. For Allison, "Rubenesque is a style of painting that I like the look and feel of.” She has opted for a career that develops on a steadier and sure pace. Crowe attests that, "I’m not in it for that (quick fame) reason.” She adds, "My fans are grass roots and more loyal.”
When asked about her possible role as mentor through her music, she responds, "I suppose that, since I have been using my label as a kind of platform to help other young, up and coming artists, that I kind of assume the role of mentor – a bit in that way.” Crowe goes on to say, "Basically, I want to give people the same opportunities that I have been given. I think the same kind of idea applies to fans because I, myself, am also a fan of other people’s music . . . their music inspires me to do what I do.”
When she plays in Nanaimo, it’s, "like coming home.” Crowe remarks, "My parents are here.” Although she has a strong support group of family, friends and fans in Nanaimo, Crowe has grown beyond her local enclave and has thrived, on her own terms, on the world stage.
"Life is basically what drives me day to day, and discovering what new things are around the corner, new places to discover, and just basically everything about it,” comments Crowe.
For inspiration, Crowe looks to, "life and things in the world.” She reports that, "writing in her journal is like therapy.”
Of her hopes and fears, Crowe attests, "I have lots of hopes. I hope that people can be happy and lead fulfilling lives and love each other – and I hope that I am one of those people.” She fears, "war and pain.” (On a smaller scale her dislikes include flying and spiders.)
When asked her purpose as a human being on the world stage, Allison touts, "my purpose as a human being is to be alive, help those I can, bring happiness and/or comfort to anyone, make people laugh if I can or cry if they need, and also just be a human and accept that no-one can ever always do all of these things.”
Under her own label, Crowe now has five CD’s, 1 DVD, 3 compilation albums, and an itune podcast. Her plans for this year include another performance in Nanaimo, a stint in Eastern Canada and a few tours in Europe and the United States. She has her sites on conquering ‘down under’ as well as Japan and is working on greater distribution in different countries. She also has plans to marry her sweetheart Angus, of Newfoundland, next summer.
Crowe’s long term vision of her career is, "basically just seeing (herself) doing what I do on a gradually building, larger scale – in more places, for more people.” She declares, "As long as I’m doing it!”
As far as discerning when she has reached her goals, Crowe muses, "I don’t think I’ll ever really ‘know.’ It may be a bit ‘Zen’ but if you ever think that you are ‘there’ you’re not really ‘there’ at all.” She feels that, "You can always learn more and do better, and there is always someone with more knowledge that you can learn from.”
For more information about Allison Crowe and her music, visit her website at www.allisoncrowe.com.
Interview/written by Helena Green, freelance writer in Nanaimo.