If you’re standing in a forest, tilting your head way back to glimpse the tops of all those majestic, thickly trunked trees, it’s just impossible not to be moved by their centuries-old resilience; the stoic strength that sees them through even the harshest storms that Mother Nature can unleash. Yet locked deep within the core of each of those mighty oaks and towering sequoias is something even stronger than their outwardly impressive surface layers: the heartwood. A tree’s densest, most durable—and often most beautiful—element, the heartwood is the robust, knotty marrow that keeps it standing proud and tall for all to marvel at. And not only is Heartwood also the name of Canadian singer-songwriter Sora’s astonishing third release, it’s as well the perfect metaphor for her music: gorgeous, rich, endlessly enduring. 

How do you describe your music to people, Sora?
This is a difficult and wonderful question.  My music is a fusion of celtic, world and neo-classical elements, not fitting particularly well into any one of those categories, but encompassing snippets of each.  The closest categorization that I can come up with is contemporary Celtic.  My music comes to me from the natural world. It is what inspires me, and what fills out my lyrics.  It is what swirls into the notes that I write. I like to think of my music as snapshots of time.  It doesn't need to fit within any particular genre to me, but it does need to feel true.  It is simply moments in reverie, whether it is my own musings on mythology or just shapes I create out of emotional echoes.  To place it into perspective though, the most common artist comparison that I receive is to Loreena McKennitt.

Tell me about how you originally got into your craft.
In my mind, there are two distinct beginnings to my music career.  As a child I was actively involved in music.  I took violin and piano lessons from a very young age and as a teenager performed with two separate touring groups with my violin.  During that time, I had a heavy focus on classical music, and learned quite a lot of music history and theory.  I then took a 7 year hiatus from performing and came back into music by deciding to take voice lessons as an adult.  I truly had no idea that I could sing before that.  My voice was as shocking to me as it was to my first voice instructor.  From that moment, it was as if a light clicked on in my head, and it just felt right to pursue music through my voice.  At first I sung only covers but eventually I just felt I couldn't be contained by other people's words and notes and started writing my own music.   I was timid at first, I wasn't sure I had anything meaningful to say, but each song drives yet another.

What is your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world?
This is probably cliche, but I love to sing.   When I say that though, I don't mean performing, although I do love to perform.  What I do mean is that I sing a lot.  I sing little silly songs about mundane things, I hum in my quiet moments.  I make up crazy inane lyrics and sing them to my cats and my kids.  I sing my joy and I sing my sorrow.  That sounds a bit like I am a living musical, and perhaps I am in some ways but the music that flows through my day has no real form, nor does it have a performer's presence.  It is simple, often silly, but always a thread which feeds itself through the eye of my days.  At times it feels as if I see the world through my voice, it is a filter through which I understand myself and my environments.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to running your business?
The biggest challenge for me is time and marketing and the two are not mutually exclusive!    I have four children ages 4-10, which can prove challenging in terms of time management as well as making extensive touring very difficult for me.  Saying that, I find that when I do sit down to work that I am productive with my time.  I find though that I require some solitude and time spent in dreamy contemplation to write music, and when I feel squeezed for time, my inspiration suffers for it.

When you were a kid, what did you think you were going to be when you grew up?
I never thought I would be a musician!  I wanted to be a veterinarian for a very long time as a child.  My father was a vet and I was always fascinated with the animals he would bring home from the clinic.  After my desire to do that faded somewhat, I wanted to be a clinical psychologist.  I went to university with that intent and have a B.A. with a major in psychology.  It was always my goal to return to university after my children were a bit older to complete a Master and PhD in psychology and work as a clinical psychologist but once I started singing, I couldn't stop.

In what way has your community impacted your development as a musician?
I feel very fortunate to live in a place that is surrounded by such exquisite beauty.  I am very profoundly moved by nature's wildness and though I live in a large city (Calgary), the Rocky Mountains are on the doorstep, so to speak.  I myself live on a protected environment park within Calgary, and find that the seasons, the way the trees move, the birdsong all makes its way into my music and into my lyrics.  When I practice, I spend quite a lot of time looking out the window at the trees and grasses, fueling myself with the beauty I find in such wanderings.  When I write, this is even more true. 

I am very inspired by archetypal storytelling, by culture and by the arts.  I read a lot, and often the themes from the books I am reading make their way into my lyrics, not as fully formed thoughts, more as subtle impressions.  I love Greek mythology and a number of my songs not only make reference to Greek myths but are about Greek mythos.  I have to say though, that I am not a reconstructionalist.  I have no interest in recreating the past, nor of retelling to perfection any particular story.  Instead it is important to me to understand why any particular myth or story is still relevant to people now.  What themes speak to us as human beings and what emotional resonance is to be found within.  I do very strongly believe that myths are a way to understand the human journey, that they in some cases stretch beyond culture and into some form of fundamental consciousness.   When I write songs based on myths, it is through my modern filter though, finding a way to connect that makes sense now.

What other artists out there do you love?
There are so many!  I love music from many different genres and listen to everything from pop to classical.  I love Loreena McKennitt.  I also have a particular fondness for the Romantic composers such as Rachmaninoff, Bizet and Tchaikovsky

What does your future hold? 
My future holds for sure a new CD.  I have been writing a lot of new music and already am dreaming up a new CD.  I am also hoping to do some small tours in Canada, the US and Europe over the next few years.

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