GREENTARA with LUCK MERVIL , SONIA COLLYMORE , DESSY DI LAURO and GOD MADE ME FUNKY as part of CMW at Revival (783 College), tonight (Thursday, March 3). $10. www.cmw.net. Rating: NNNNN
GreenTaRA has chosen her side of the nature/nurture debate.
"I was adopted into a great family," the rising coffee-house diva explains warmly from her home in Vancouver. "And they were not musical. Still, when I was a little kid I used to get my brothers and sisters to do dance routines and lip-sync to old Boney M records and charge the family 25 cents to watch it."
When she met her biological parents and learned that her mother was a jazz singer and a writer and her father a sculptor, painter and carver, GreenTaRA got some insight into the unexplainable musical force within her.
"In my experience," she says, "if you grow up in a family that's not musical, and you have it in you, it'll still come out."
In her case, this is the understatement of the millennium. Over the last 16 years, GreenTaRA has taught herself how to play her father's old guitar, trained to sing opera and sung in a Southern gospel choir. She's opened for Little Richard, solo.
She's also an ethnomusicologist, which has led her to live in Australia, where she learned the didgeridoo from three Aboriginal mentors.
Knowing how to jam on an instrument that obscure, she'd be a shoo-in as the 13th Broken Social Scenester, no? No. Not these days.
"I used to showboat with it a little bit," she says. "I used to play all around town and stuff, but now I really play for me. It's a cool instrument, but I don't need to play the didgeridoo as a public performance mechanism."
The respectful attitude is a perfect reflection of GreenTaRA's reverence for global musical culture at large. As is her powerfully eclectic recent solo debut, Music For A Mixed Nation, which she released on vinyl just last week. Deftly channelling a variety of genres, on the record TaRA deals with themes of harmony, interpersonal and environmental, in a language everyone can relate to. Her spirit made her an ideal choice to perform at the UN's NGO Committee on the Status of Women conference in New York on Saturday (March 5), two days after her CMW show at Revival.
For GreenTaRA, music is the best medium to inspire positivity.
"If I can awaken someone's mind through a song," she says, "just from them singing the chorus over and over again until it becomes some sort of mantra, on some level it's going to sink in."