Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Songwriter's loss inspired her to ditch day job for music

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In the fall of 2012, Americana singer/songwriter Lindsay May experienced a series of losses that changed her life.

Her mother died, followed by her grandmother. Then she lost the loyal friend who helped her get through those dark days: her dog.

"I remember I fell and I couldn't get up," the 36-year-old Kelowna, B.C., native recalls. "Because my mom died so young I realized that life is short. I didn't want to look back and have regrets."

And so, the business graduate quit her stable corporate day job to pursue her music career -- which she had been building for over a decade -- full-time.

"It was a weight off my shoulders," she says of quitting her job. Balancing two careers was starting to wear her down. "I had to make a decision. And I still have a business degree. I'm not stuck. It's funny how we often think decisions are permanent."

Besides, it's not as though making it in music is a pipe dream for May; she has business acumen, after all, and the risks she takes are calculated.

She has two well-received full-length albums under her belt -- 2008's Bronze and Blue and 2012's Shimmer -- and her third album, this year's Girl With Grit, could just be the record to raise her profile.

Themes of perseverance and empowerment run through this beautifully crafted six-song collection, which is populated by adventurous, resilient, flawed women.

"According to Netflix, I love 'Strong Female Characters,'" May says with a laugh. Unlike the Strong Female Character archetypes we so often see onscreen, May's protagonists aren't one-dimensional -- no small feat, considering they exist in the relatively small space of a song.

Although the EP was written before her mother's death, it's an oddly fitting tribute to the woman who actively discouraged her from pursuing a career in music.

May's mother may not have championed her dream of becoming a singer/songwriter, but she made sure her daughter understood the importance of independence and agency.

"I had a strong mom who was a single parent who wanted to make sure I never starved," May says. "I don't regret going into business. It was a good decision."

Throwing herself into music has also proved to be a good decision. Performing has been a vital part of her grieving process.

"It's like I'm playing my own therapy," she says. "And people will come up to me and say, 'Thanks for that,' or 'I needed that.' Hard things happen in life. I had to find a way to keep going.

"Music got me out of bed," she says. "It gave me hope."

jen.zoratti@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 15, 2014 G3

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