“Taking flight from the revolution within” – Robin Gorn
By: Sharman Yarnell – mtltimes.ca
Born in Ottawa but moved to New York as a child, she can’t remember where, nor can she remember too much about Manhattan but then she was only four, so we can’t hold that against her! From New York, the family moved to Montreal where her grandfather had opened up a hardware store on St. Denis way back. “My roots are of four generations of Montrealers.”
She’s a poet, a songwriter, a dancer and she likes to laugh. She did a lot of that in our phone chat. She is Robin Gorn, and she has just released her first album, SoftWing. The sounds on the album grew from her free spirit, from travels to Cuba, Mexico, Brazil, and other faraway places.
It’s not surprising that Gorn became a musician – she is an old soul that spreads positivity and love about her wherever she goes. In fact, if you listen carefully when she talks, you can hear the hippie wanderer in her. Along the way, she managed to pick up Portuguese, Spanish and a bit of Hebrew.
Growing up she listened to Studio One Reggae, Joni Mitchell, Miriam Makeba and Ella Fitzgerald. “Music is in such flux – it is very hard for artists to get paid for their work. I do believe that there are systems that are starting to gel, help the situation. I’m lucky, though. I am getting airplay in Jamaica and France.”
Gorn talks about her album as one would a newborn. Soft Wing features all original songs. “They are my soul. I hope this music helps people get in contact with who they are in their deepest selves. Soft Wing to me means the wings that take their flight from the revolution within. We took each song, like a flower, and let it unfold. It took a lot of time. There are some musicians that are present on all the tunes. But each song had its own little universe and I would think about who I knew that would live in this universe for this song and then I would invite them in.”
“The album begins with the spirit journey of “Noah’s Arms” and Robin’s spoken word anthem,”Love Shakin’ The Fences”. “Til we try” is her nod to the Philadelphia Sweet Soul Sound. Also in the 70’s style, her pop ballad “Who’s Watching Over You” explores the unholy promises we make to survive. We hear live recorded sounds amidst the street protests of “Printemps Érable 2012”, in Montreal. “Cheguei Lá” is a circle dance capoeira style while “New Rocksteady” celebrates renewal with an Afro-Caribbean-Doo-Wap. The marching band in “Walking to Bonfim” travels the world of danceable grooves and her bluegrass tune “Beaujelais” swings the revolution with mandolin and fiddle. There are cries of of a Grandmother’s sorrow that are softened by Rain-sticks, chimes and Japanese Flute in “Tumbai” and the nearly naked solo Voice and Piano tune, “I’m not Performing. “I Will Follow You Down” invites you in a slow blues to surrender to life while an invocation, “Holy” chants by a fire on a windy night.” The album speaks of so many different cultures in its diversity. It can’t fit into any boxes although there are different genres. There’s a Regae tune, R&B, Brazilian rhythms, and some Blue Grass. The musicians on the album come from Japan to Togo –
Gorn likes to delve into community, immerse herself in the life of her surroundings. “I would love to spend a month in a country, live there and do forays from that city. Going to live in a country, staying in one place, making friends, meeting families, learning from them. It’s all about exchanging. That’s what I would like to do.”
Can she make a difference with her music? “People want to take back their voices. It’s no longer acceptable to people to be sitting all day and consuming other people’s creativity – we are all creative beings. Artist’s have particular gifts to share. We can be a focal point and inspiration. A huge part of the population is concerned about their purpose and how they treat each other.”
That’s exactly what her music is about. Making a difference.