Rebecca Lappa

Poet is inspiration for Edmonton songwriter

What does Victorian poet Lord Alfred Tennyson have in common with a contemporary Edmonton songwriter? A romantic sensibility, as it turns out.

What does Victorian poet Lord Alfred Tennyson have in common with a contemporary Edmonton songwriter?

A romantic sensibility, as it turns out.

Rebecca Lappa, who performs next Tuesday and Thursday (July 15, 17) on Red Deer’s Ross Street Patio, drew on atmospheric poems written by England’s 19th-century poet laureate — including The Charge of the Light Brigade and The Lotus Eaters — as inspiration for songs on her latest CD, which was recorded with a $10,000 Rawlco Radio recording grant.

The soon-to-be Grade 12 student at the Victoria School of the Arts, is something of a natural songwriter — Ode to Tennyson is the fourth album the talented 17-year-old has recorded.

“I’ve been writing songs since the age of nine,” said Lappa, a three-time Canadian Folk Music Awards nominee and a two-time prize winner of the Calgary Folk Festival Songwriting Contest (placing first 2013 and third in 2014 in the Sonic Youth contest).

Lappa usually starts the songwriting process by humming a new melody into a tape recorder.

She pens some lyrics, then decides which of her three instruments — piano, guitar or banjo — would best suit the tune and finishes composing on that instrument.

“I have three large binders full of music,” said Lappa, who pulled her first three albums of songs from these.

Tennyson became the theme of her current album after a songwriting mentor gave Lappa a book of his poems to read.

The bearded author of The Lady of Shallott, Crossing the Bar and Mariana often created poetry with melancholic, discontented characters who linger in isolation. His beautiful heroines frequently inspired works by Pre-Raphaelite artists, including John Everett Millais, William Holman Hunt, and John William Waterhouse.

Lappa believes Tennyson’s poems are really about human nature, so would be relevant in any century.

For instance, her Mermaid and Merman tune was based on his ideas about duality — being one kind of person during the day and someone more secretive at night. The idea of hiding behind a mask of respectability has been a literary theme throughout history, said Lappa.

Tennyson wrote The Lotus Eaters about a Greek myth in which Odysseus meets people who are made listless by their consumption of a narcotic plant.

Lappa interpreted this in her similarly titled song “as the loss of courage, the loss of ability to make decisions” — an inertia that seizes many people at certain points in their lives.

Her Kraken is about unleashing the “monster” that often lurks within even the mildest person. “

Don’t make a woman angry,” said a chuckling Lappa, “There are all kinds of dark secrets inside. . .”

Being inspired by Tennyson’s rich use of language left her wanting to read other literary classics, including tales by Edgar Allan Poe. which will no doubt fuel future songwriting projects.

The teenager, who’s on her school’s cheerleading team and coaches gymnastics when she isn’t songwriting, said she really looks forward to playing on the Ross Street patio.

Whether singing at a coffee shop or folk festival, Lappa said she loves performing for any attentive audience who appreciates her music.

Her shows on the Ross Street Patio are from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m.

Just Posted

WATCH: Property taxes in Red Deer will go up 2.02 per cent in 2018

City council passes a “tough” budget that maintains most service levels

Red Deer councillor balks at city getting stuck with more provincial funding responsibilities

Volunteer Central seeks municipal funding after being cut off by FCSS

Olds chicken barn burns to the ground, no livestock harmed

More than 100,000 chickens were saved as fire crews prevent the blaze from spreading

Bear video meant to promote conservation: zoo owner

Discovery Wildlife Park says it will look at other ways to promote its conservation message

Red Deer’s Soundhouse closing its doors on Record Store Day

The owners of The Soundhouse want to shut down their store on… Continue reading

NorAm Western Canadian Cross Country Ski Championships begin in Red Deer

The biggest cross-country skiing competition in Red Deer’s history is underway. Nearly… Continue reading

In photos: Get ready for Western Canadian Championships

Haywood NorAm Western Canadian Championships and Peavey Mart Alberta Cup 5/6 start… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer city council debates cost-savings versus quality of life

Majority of councillors decide certain services are worth preserving

Got milk? Highway reopened near Millet

A southbound truck hauling milk and cartons collided with a bridge

Stettler’s newest residents overcame fear, bloodshed to come here

Daniel Kwizera, Diane Mukasine and kids now permanent residents

Giddy up: Red Deer to host Canadian Finals Rodeo in 2018

The CFR is expected to bring $20-30 million annually to Red Deer and region

Ice dancers Virtue and Moir to carry flag at Pyeongchang Olympics

Not since Kurt Browning at the 1994 Lillehammer Games has a figure… Continue reading

Beer Canada calls on feds to axe increasing beer tax as consumption trends down

OTTAWA — A trade association for Canada’s beer industry wants the federal… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month