Telling the stories that matter

By Alyson Queen –

Tucked into a café in Hintonburg for our chat, Amanda Rheaume just seems like the girl next door. She’s lived here for ten years, knows her neighbours and blends right in. Yet, she is an accomplished Canadian songwriter with four albums who has recorded with Chantal Kreviazuk and is set to tour the UK this month.

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Photo of Amanda Rheaume by Jen Squires

Before talking about books for KT Reads, we chatted about her new album.

Holding Patterns was released in May and features the song, Red Dress, which is a provocative take on an issue that hits home.

Red Dress was a song that I’d been wanting to write for a really long time, surrounding the idea of honouring the murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada.”

She was inspired by the REDress project in Winnipeg, where over 600 red dresses were displayed publicly as a powerful visual for the tragedies. She was also clearly impacted by the not-guilty verdict rendered in the Cindy Gladue case in Edmonton, which ignited outrage across the country.

Although set to a dreamy score, it’s not a healing song. It’s an awareness piece and a call to action.

To honour the more than 1180 murdered and missing Indigenous women, she is donating $1 from every album or Red Dress single sale to the safety and violence prevention program of the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

Both are easily available on iTunes or at amandarheaume.com.

“If people can think about it in the way of victim blaming, and how many of these women don’t have a choice most of the time. They’re stuck and they’re suffering. It’s to encourage that conversation.”

The song has grabbed attention, including from Chantal Kreviazuk, who recorded it with her for the album.

Life has been busy since the new album was released. Amanda was on tour in Canada in May, hit BluesFest here in Ottawa and will be back in Ontario in August after her UK Tour.

So what is she reading this summer?

“I don’t read too much on the road unfortunately, because we are on the move so much,” she admits. When she gets the chance though, she will often reach for a good self-help book.

“I find them really helpful to try and live a more balanced life and gain insight into myself.”

As someone who has her own challenges with anxiety, she’s currently digging into The Worry Trap by Chad LeJeune.

A practical book filled with analogies and fresh perspective, it focuses on mindfulness and acceptance.

“It’s a self-help book of sorts that teaches how to deal with overwhelming worries or thoughts or anxiety. It is really helping me to put some distance between anxiousness and being able to enjoy life. I’d highly recommend it,” says Amanda.

Everyone needs a little inspiration and encouragement along the way – and Amanda finds hers in a variety of places. Yet one thing is clear: she is determined to use her voice to tell stories that matter, causing people to think and act differently after having heard her music.

This post is part of our KT summer reads issue. Read all of our other profiles right here.

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