When Halifax Presents first spoke with Toronto-based folk singer-songwriter Andrea Ramolo two weeks ago, she was riding high.
She had just been nominated as Contemporary Singer of the Year at this year’s Canadian Folk Music Awards for her latest album Homage, a 10-song collection honouring the music of Leonard Cohen. She was also looking forward to performing in Halifax on her way to the ceremony in Charlottetown.
Of course, that was just as the world really began to change due to COVID-19.
In a follow-up to our original conversation, Ramolo now tells us that most of the projects she is involved in have “come to a crashing halt.”
And like countless others, both in the arts and other professions, she is facing considerable challenges as her work as a musician, educator, dance instructor, blogger and online radio show host have all been affected. “Like all of my creative colleagues worldwide, we are facing a huge challenge and struggling to come up with ideas to survive,” she says.
Her roots in Italy as a first-generation Italian-Canadian is taking a significant toll as well. “They are living a nightmare, and all I can do is think of them and cry,” she says.
A recent online concert on Facebook was used to help raise relief funds for a hospital in Milano, which is at the epicentre of the pandemic in Italy.
“Their medical infrastructure is crumbling as it is not strong enough to provide the necessary treatment for all those infected,” she says. “I only hope and pray that as Canadians, we learn from this tragic cautionary tale.”
Ramolo goes onto say she is self-quarantining and practicing social distancing because it is the right thing to do. “My heart breaks as I will not be able to sing for my Halifax supporters, and I was really looking forward to the Folk Awards, and ever so grateful to have been nominated for my latest album Homage.”
“We must think of our elders and those with compromised immune systems,” she continues. “And we must help each other to keep our vibrations high and to stay strong and positive as a global family.”
Like many others who are in quarantine, isolation or practicing social distancing, Ramolo is trying to keep busy and centred. Not surprisingly it is music at the forefront, along with cooking to help keep her sane. She has also started writing her first song in Italian to honour those who are in complete lockdown in Italy. “That and a daily dose of exercise and stretching and catching up with loved ones across the country and overseas,” she says.
With a strong belief in the salvation music can bring, Ramolo encourages others to use music as a way to deal with what is happening in the world right now. “It’s always come to my rescue during the most challenging of times,” she says. “Keep yourselves positive and find opportunities to get creative and tap into your own powerful source energy.”
Looking forward to the day when the global crisis is over, she is convinced we will “emerge brighter and more beautiful than ever before because we took this quiet time to go inward and recognize that we need to make changes.”
She is also looking forward to returning to Halifax. “I am sending strength to my beloved east coasters and to everyone out there. We will get through this.”
Halifax Presents will run the original interview with Ramolo prior to her next show in Halifax in which we delve deeper into her Halifax connections, career and music.