Wauchope Arts and Mid North Coast Refugee Support Group will host a very special concert this month, to raise funds for Sanctuary Australia’s Refugee Support Programs. Baltimore based singer songwriter SONiA diappear fear (Sonia Rutstein) and local performer Helen Mottee will present a show to remember … We chat to both Sonia and Krissa Wilkinson from Wauchope Arts ahead of the December 8 performance …
Hi Krissa. What’s the aim of the show on December 8, featuring SONiA disappear fear and Helen Mottee – where will funds raised go?
Historically, music has successfully shaped the world, raising awareness during campaigns for civil rights, social justice, women’s rights and peace.
Sonia Rutstein and local support artist Helen Mottee use their musical talents as singer songwriters to raise concerns about injustice, human rights and the plight of refugees.
Helen is a much-loved local performer, who pens heartfelt tunes that she will play on the grand piano. Some say she is our local Carol King!
The aim of this event is to cultivate compassion and encourage generosity. This event is a fundraiser for Sanctuary Australia’s Refugee Support Programs.
Like the influx of people after WWII and the holocaust, or people fleeing Vietnam after the war, refugees who manage to settle in Australia face many hardships and are dependent on the kindness of strangers.
You’ll have additional offerings on the night, including a raffle. What are the refreshment arrangements, and what prizes can people win?
A light dinner will be for sale from 6:30pm for $10. There will be an array of delicious home cooked vegetarian food, much of it harvested from local organic gardens.
The raffle includes beautiful original prints by designer Annie Georgeson, hand woven and handmade items, including some beautiful ceramic bowls, as well as organic produce.
How much are tickets, and where can they be purchased?
Tickets can be purchased at the door from 6:30pm or online at http://www.trybooking.com/SPJI – $25, or $20 for Arts Council and refugee group members.
Hi Sonia. Introduce us to SONiA disappear fear, which has undergone a few changes since its inception…
The basic spine and soul of disappear fear has always been me and my Santa Cruz guitar. My sister, CiNDY, and I created the band disappear fear and at its inception we were a duo in October of 1987 – and then we worked with different members, depending on my writing and our dating habits. The first band was a marimba percussionist and cellist. Next was a basic rock formation.
Currently I work with bassist Christopher Sellman, who I’ve performed and recorded with off and on for 20 years and percussionist Ezell Jones Jr.
Originally we were heavy into sisterhood harmonies, so when CiNDY left, I had to really focus on great songwriting to stay alive and engaging.
The songs you write reflect issues of today … issues you’re obviously very passionate about. What are some of the key messages you hope to convey with your music?
Every choice we make has a price of defining our future; hence by definition, “free will”. Before doing music full-time, I worked at a Rape Crisis Centre. I was acutely aware of self empowerment after an assault. This can apply, as does the essence of the idea of disappearing fear to many situations that we might feel powerless in, so I hope my songs inspire people to find their own courage and live in the moment and to love out loud.
Of course, this transpires into political realms as well as religious, sexual, stereotypes and scientific applications.
You buck the trend by performing in places/venues other performers would shun. For you personally, what’s been one of your more memorable performances?
One concert I loved was at a V.A hospital near Austin, Texas, on Memorial Day. There was an old soldier who’d been badly wounded in Vietnam – in a wheelchair – who at the end of my song actually stood up to give me a personal and extremely difficult standing ovation.
Another wonderful experience was at concert I did in a bomb shelter in Israel during the second antifada – it was very powerful and especially memorable, because we never knew who would live or what would happen next.
But the most amazing experience I can think of was for this 10 year child in Massachusetts near Boston – she had extreme cerebral palsy. She was in love and very familiar with my singing voice. When I started to sing her favourite song, she went absolutely ecstatic. I’ve never seen so much joy bursting out of a human being like that – ever. It was all encompassing in loveliness.
When you perform in Wauchope on December 8, who’ll be supporting you – both on stage and behind the scenes?
I travel with my manager, who lucky for me is also my wife.
What are your thoughts ahead of travelling “down under” … Have you visited here before?
Yes, I have toured in Oz before. I’ve played the Woodford Folk Festival about four times, also the Illawarra festival, Cygnet and Mardi Gras. My last tour in 2009 I played the Sydney Opera House, State Theatre in Canberra, Adelaide, Brisbane and Melbourne. I have shared the stage with Kristina Olsen, Kristy Apps, George, the Waifs, Blue House, Fred Smith, Aurora Jane, Ember Swift, and many other great performers.
When you have the chance to wind down from your Australian experience, what are your plans?
This time I hope to hit the waves at Noosa and also venture out to Uluru (Ayers Rock) and maybe get to snorkel again at the Great Barrier Reef – but must importantly, reconnect with my Aussie mates.
Photos by Lea Morales.