CONTENT WARNING: This episode of Hidden Track contains multiple references to childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Although the content does not go into explicit details, some listeners may find these topics of discussion uncomfortable.
“Looking back, I am astonished at times by what I have done in search of love, and just to survive.”
Over the course of her astounding life story, Tara MacLean has been an international hitmaker; a survivor of horrific childhood abuse; a lifelong student of art, music, and philosophy; a performer everywhere from Lilith Fair to Late Night with Conan O’Brien; a mother; a creative collaborator; a theatre creator; and now an author. At her core, though, Tara MacLean sees herself as… a sparrow.
In the title track to her new album Sparrow, Tara MacLean sings passionately of her need to “trust the wind and the open sky”. And to be sure, she’s spent her life navigating a staggering series of soaring highs and gut-wrenching lows. But she’s a songbird by nature; songs are her way of expressing and grappling with life’s often incomprehensible joys and sorrows. And her stunning new memoir Song of the Sparrow recounts her heartbreaking, inspiring, fierce, stranger-than-fiction journey. In the pages of this book and in the lyrics of its companion album, she brings us inside moments of difficult trauma, transcendent triumph, unthinkable loss, and cosmic good fortune. Of what she’s learned from walking this jagged road, she writes, “I propose that love has no opposite. It’s all love in this messy, sad, heartbreaking world.”
From her earliest childhood years in Prince Edward Island, she was surrounded by the performing arts and music. Also surrounding her from an early age, however, was horrific sexual abuse. As a child, she taught herself to cope with her tumultuous existence by pouring her heart into writing and singing songs.
In this free-spirited, open-hearted conversation, she tells us about the dizzying journey she’s been on, starting with when a 9-year-old Tara stepped onto a county fair stage, and fell in love with sharing music with the world.