What is the one thing you would want other young artists to know to move forward in their careers?
“The most important thing is to listen to yourself. Don’t try to be another person or like another person. Learn from them but really focus on developing who you are as an artist. There are lots of copycats but the people who express themselves as individuals are the ones that are memorable.”
Dalannah Gail Bowen has been a vocalist for forty years. Her life as a musician started in 1965 when she worked for the great Frank Wiener who operated the well-known Hungry Eye in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The all-girl band, The Feminine Touch, worked the circuit and had their first big gig after just three months opening for The Monkees. They were the opening act, on many occasions, for The Guess Who and toured Canada and the United States.
A year later Dalannah, then know as Gail, went on the road with the Colored Rain and ended up in Edmonton where the band worked the club scene with such groups as Papa Bear’s Medicine Show, Black Snake Blues Band, The Privilege, Taj Mahal and a newly-formed band out of England called Led Zeppelin. It was a great time to be a musician.
In 1976, Dalannah came to Vancouver where her special style of blues and jazz were well received. Performances included venues like The Cave, The Commodore, Oil Can Harry’s and Rohan’s. In 1977, working with the late Gary Switlo, Paul Hovan and Betty Chabba, Dalannah was part of a project called “Ladies In Lights” which profiled women in music. This event was the first television/radio simulcast in Vancouver history. This event also had another aspect. It was a benefit for The Children’s Christmas Stocking Fund.
The impact on Dalannah was immediate and since then she has dedicated her life to addressing social issues through music. For 25 years, Dalannah has created and produced musical signature events that raise funds for charitable organizations. Socials issues such as anti-apartheid, poverty, health, childrens needs, the aboriginal elders and people in need have all benefited from funds raised by Dalannah through musical endeavors. Dalannah has had the opportunity to work with musical greats such as Freddie Hubbard, BB King, Lenny Breau, Rev Gary Davis and many more.
Dalannah Gail Bowen has received an honorary Juno for her work, an International Women’s Day Award and many other acknowledgements. In 2005, The Yale Hotel honored her with a reception honouring her community work as a musical activist. Dalannah was a recent nominee for the prestigious Minerva Foundation’s 2007 “Women In Music” award.
The Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts
The idea for the Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts was Dalannah Bowen’s dream for several years.
Her dream is a dream for everyone – to connect to the artist within ourselves, to create, to contribute, to live our dream, and to share our dream with others.
Dalannah knew it would take time to create a good foundation of people and resources to support the idea and bring her vision to life. She began by donating money she raised through her concert performances. In the spring of 2008, Dalannah began to tell the community about her idea and dream to create the Downtown Eastside Centre for the Arts.
Blues at Christmas
When Drew Burns and I first developed this idea, it was with the recognition that music is a powerful tool that crosses borders, cultivates community, and celebrates the human spirit. We had no idea that the Vancouver community would support the project the way it has.
I first want to thank the most important group of people who unselfishly gave of themselves year after year….the musicians. You are Blues for Christmas. Every time I came to you, without hesitation you siad “Of Course!”. I am so very grateful for your positive response. I would also like to thank the community of music supporters because “If there’s no audience, there’s no show…”
This year is bittersweet for me. I realize it is time for me to step down. My prayer is that all of you have been touched by the sense of community we have built, by the camaraderie we have shared, – and the kick-ass music, – smiles – we have created. In peace.
Dalannah Gail Bowen
Wimbli Macpya Wia
Eagle Sky Woman
Executive Producer, Blues for Christmas
Vancouver Music Community
Blues in Vancouver