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Since 1979 • November 2020 • Circulation 5000

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Dana Wylie: “Music has always been my language.”

Dana Wylie. Leroy Schulz

Dana Wylie, a former music director on the board of Heart of the City Festival, recently became a McCauley resident. Music has defined her life’s path. “I did musical theatre straight out of high school for a few years professionally,” she says. “And then I started writing songs. I went to university in my 30s and studied music history and musicology. Music has always been my language. It’s like my first language!”

Dana had this to say about living in McCauley: “I love living in McCauley because it really does feel like the heart of the city. Every day I come into contact with people from different backgrounds and different walks of life, doing life in such a huge variety of ways. And I like living in a neighbourhood where I can’t hide from the fact that we live in a city and a society that fails so many of its people every day. I haven’t lived here long, but I believe this is the kind of neighbourhood where people do their best to look after one another.”

Dana told me that she has two projects on the go. She just finished recording a new album called How Much Muscle. Dana says, “It lives in the world of womanhood and coming into a really feminine kind of power, the kind of power that tends to get recognized as irrationality and hysteria. It is about women and femmes asserting that it is power and not just craziness.”

She goes on to say, “I’ve also written a show. It’s a theatrical song cycle or a music theatre hybrid piece that has my songs interspersed with text that explores my relationship to my ancestry and sometimes the lack of connection I feel to my ancestry. It’s about trying to get back to my roots or figure out what they are. The show is going to be produced at the SkirtsAFire Festival in March.”

Dana is also an activist and recently led a rally for the Basic Income movement. She explains, “The reason I’ve become interested enough to get involved with Basic Income is because of the way that I felt after I started getting CERB. The stress of worrying about money fell off me. I felt more creative. I felt more like I could define the course of my life and it made me think: what would people do if they weren’t spending all of their time scrambling around to make money? What amazing projects would people take on? What amazing art would people make? What really important activism would people do? I’m sure people would feed themselves better. People would support more local businesses and go to farmers markets to buy their vegetables. This could be so exciting if the average person had all that stress taken off of them.”

When I asked Dana how people could get involved in the Basic Income movement, she encouraged people to go to this website and sign up for the newsletter: www.basicincomecanada.org

You can follow Dana Wylie on Instagram at @danawyliemusic.

Corine Demas serves as volunteer Vice President and Spoken Word Director of the Heart of the City Festival Society of Edmonton. Corine is passionate about poetry, storytelling, and her city, Edmonton.

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