HEIDI KOLE GOING UNDER TO RISE ABOVE!
HEIDI KOLE, singer, composer, author, teacher, sheās genuine, authentic, passionate and her story touches the heart, the mind and the soul.Ā It makes you think, and perhaps I should say re-think your values and just how true to yourself you are and how far you are willing to go to remain so.
It is with great pleasure, and I am honoured to welcome this wonderful underground diva who has so graciously responded to my invitation.Ā Heidi, welcome and thank youĀ for participating in this project by answering the following questions.
No. 1) Ā What is music to and for you? Ā (in general and personally)
To me, music isā¦wowā¦I hesitate to say everything as I wouldnāt want ot put that much pressure on one thing in life, but itās way up there with running, biking, floating on the River and any other activity that puts me in touch with truth and source. The cool thing about music is that although I can share biking and running with others by explaining it or participating in the activity with them, it still feels like two solo activities, you know, tow people partaking in one activity and having separate experiences. Whereas with music when either created or shared it spans beyond any other activity I can think of. This universal connection appears both when I write music, perform music and listen to music ā and mostly the former two.Ā Both when I write a new song, or rather when the song borrows me to be written, and when I perform there is a profound connection when I get out of the way. The connection is like a dialogue. In the writing of music the dialogue is between the Universe and the language of music and when I perform the dialogue, the dance is between the music and the different souls involved; me, the audience &, in the case of performing in the subways, whoever happens to be hanginā around on the platforms. I know no other art form that can move energy as music can. Nothing else has the vibrational power that music has. I would sooner liken music to the power the rhythm of the oceans surf has on a soul over a sculpture or piece of fine art. I appreciate all art and it all has great power and potential to move energy, but music has the added power of vibrational energy that in turn can transform a mood with one opening note or chord form a well loved song. Personally, when I am away from music and itās power for very long, I begin to wither. Itās my sustenance more so than food or drink. And I know this to have been true for me since I was a small child and has continued since in my life.
No. 2) Ā What inspires you?Ā
Gosh ā life. I know that sounds trite perhaps but tiās true. Everything, everyone I see, hear, touch, encounter in life gets translated in me into music & lyrics. It either gets used in the moment or āstoredā for later use for me to draw on. I love how a phrase contains an entire song in itās innate rhythm. I love how being moved by the energy of a perfect day or itās contrasting difficult situation can both hold entire compositions inside. I love seeing the world through the lens of sound, rhythm and words and observing what gets spit out musically as a result.
No. 3) Ā When you are playing, creating, singing, where does it take you? Ā Where does your mind travel?
Ahā¦.good question. When writing, my mind has to actually āleaveā in a way. It has to leave in the sense that we usually use our mind and become 100% available and at service to the song. So in a way, if youāre familiar with mediation of any kind, thatās where the mind goes. It goes to source and only in that way can the song truly speak through you. I never made the connection between that state of being thatās necessary for composition and performing until I performed in the trains here in NYC. I had performed all my life on stage, in National tours, on cruise ships, TV, Film Radio etc and never did I really step out of the picture until I hit the platforms and sang in the NYC Subways. But the very first day I did that something left me. Something left and what remained allowed me complete freedom, abandon and pure happiness. I realized after writing āThe Subway Diariesā that what had left was my ego. And in ditching my ego I was left in that pure, I guess you could say meditative space where it was, once again, me, the music and the energy I just happened to be sharing with, oh a couple of thousand strangers on the Uptown A platform : ) The reason this happens in the subways is there is really no space for oneās ego when you sing there. No one cares if youāre there or not, no one even knows youāre there unless you get out of the way and be 100% in the music. Only then do you move them, touch them and only then are you gifted as well with effortlessness and a kind of weightless out of body experience. You see, on stage, you can often get away with āthe imageā, āthe packageā, āthe lookā ā and one can even hide behind that mirage on stage. Iām not saying by doing so youāre making art, itās just that the environment allows for the ego to participate and the music to take a back seat to the ego. Butā¦.in the trains, there is no ambiance, no lights, no sound system, no costumes or make up or invites or production and the only, the only thing you are left with is being true to your art and moving people or being ignored for making noise. The former is much more fun. When you do āloose your mindā in essence, while performing or writing, magic happens & when you pop back in, you and the audience, you and the music, you and the song thatās being birthed is right there, in front of you, carrying everyone who hears it.
No. 4) Ā Do you think music, painting and health are related and if so, how?
Absolutely related. I feel strongly in the healing power of all art forms and especially as I mentioned above, in the healing power of music. Mostly because of the healing powers of the tones and vibrations. Did you know that the Egyptian Pyramids were originally built not as tombs but as healing vessels. They were tuned to specific tones and people would enter to different parts of the pyramids, containing different tones, all depending on what their ailment happened to be. The most frequently used tone for healing was F#. When you realize that it makes you wonder about the path āmodernā medicine has taken and what healing tools we may actually have right in our own iPODs I do know, however that if I have any ailment, if I go underground & sing, whatever was āeatingā at me is gone by the time I leave the trains. The power of the breath and vibration is palpable daily to me. Finally, anything anyone can do to ālooseā themselves, let their mind ābeā, discharge oneās ego, let if go off duty for a time can be nothing but healing in nature.Ā I have many more thoughts on this subject but Iād be typing forever.
No. 5) Ā How do you feel when you are playing music, singing?
Particularly when I am in the trains singing, I feel 100% free. I feel that way especially in the trains or as I discovered at numerous busking festivals this summer, anywhere where I am busking for the public. It is the most selfless and selfish activity I have experienced short of a long summer run or bike ride along the River. In short Iām in heaven. Iāve even mentioned a few times to my friends in the trains that āI could seriously die right here on the platforms and be completely contentā. I feel that good
No. 6) Ā Do you identify with your songs and if so, on what level?
Iām assuming you mean both the ones I write and the covers I perform and of course I do identify with them. I identify with different songs though for different reasons. Some I identify because of their lyrics, some because of their melody and some just because their rhythm makes me want to dance and I love to watch it do the same for others. Often times a song will āmorphā for me, For example it willĀ be a good song that speaks to the masses on one day and the next, depending on what has happened to me that day or week, it will become a sincerely personal message Iām conveying through the very same song. So, yes I do identify, each song for itās own unique reasons and those elements are fostered, highlighted in what moves me by what I or others have been recently experiencing.
No. 7) Ā Under what conditions do you work best?
Gosh ā relaxed I guess. And one would not, innately think of the Subways as ārelaxedā but for me the trains are where I exhale. Same goes for songwriting but Iād add to songwriting āinspiredā as itās much more powerful to combine me getting out of the way with a specific inspiration. In a performance, the audience fills is my inspiration. So those are the two elements, relaxed (out of the picture) and inspired.
No. Does playing music, singing, help you connect with your Higher Self, whatever that is for you? Ā (Youāve answered this actually)
Yes. I have found through the years, and especially through my experience performing in the NYC Subways that without that connection to āhigherā or ātrueā self, itās not music ā itās simply uninspired noise filling up airspace. But with that connection honestly I have found you can sing any words, any melody anything & if youāre connected to source it will move peopleĀ ā ie if I am moved, they are moved. I donāt use the term āhigher selfā very often as I believe that what is insinuated in that term is a separation between you and something outside of you. And in truth, in my experience there is no distinction, and to separate ourselves from our own truth, even in language, does a disservice to each one of us. I believe that what we see as tangible (the house, the car, the job, the clothes etc) are less of a reality than that truth/source that we all hold inside. I know that may seem odd to some but I feel that we see with our five senses is somewhat āold hatāā¦someone elseās manifestation. Whereas the energy and vibrational power each of us holds to endlessly create is enormous and rarely tapped in society as itās stood over the pat hundreds of years. However I do see that changing andĀ people āwaking upā to their own inner truths and power which is energizing and exciting. This interview is a prime example of that awakening in action. Years ago these questions would not have been asked and now youāre out there firing away, digging beyond what weāve for so long considered ārealā. I want to thank you for that.
No. 9) Ā How do you feel about creativity in the public school system, its development and even its use in problem solving for instance?
I have directed, taught and held master classes in the Public School system mostly in DC and have seen the power arts and athletics, hold for young souls in their ability to express themselves freely. There are so many rules in society now & the rules appear to continue to compound daily. The arts is essential for children and adults alike to reclaim their power and āsourceā amidst the rules, regulations and other peopleās manifestations of what a functional society āshouldā look like. I also believe however, having also taught in private schools, that the arts are as vital in the private educational system as they are in the public. I have found that the pressure for kids to succeed in pre-determined ways by their parents and society is beyond oppressive and begins as early as kindergarten in some social circles. I have taught in such environments and to be honest, the kids are so tied up in knots even by the age of 7 or 8 that itās almost harder in those environments to help them find their true voice, as by that time they are already more concerned about what others may think than what makes them truly happy. Kids in the public schools may have other elements working against them, such as lack of funds etc but Iāve found the children in public schools much more free and still in many ways, in touch with who they are and what they dream of than many in private institutions. Those in public schools, in my experience, have still been granted the freedom to dream and believe in their dreams. Whereas in private schools (unless itās an arts school) the ādreamā has often been ātrainedā out of them at a very young age and they have already in a sense, substituted their truth for someone elseās.Ā Short answer ā yes, arts, athletics-anything that fosters creativity and freedom of self is vital to the complete development of all young souls.
No. 10) Ā In your opinion, what could be a simple solution to improve creativity in the public school system?
Wow ā big question and Iām not sure most would consider my answer āsimpleā but a āsolutionā can be simple if/when we achieve a shift in consciousness about our priorities and what education really means. Meaning, we need to make a shift from an attitude of ātrainingā our children to memorize and recreate what past generations have done over and over again, to a mind set that each new soul on this earth has something unique and magical to bring to this planet. And our schools should be an environment of exploration and discovery, filled with adventures and breakthroughs that encourage our new souls to push the limits of what we think is possible, not memorize what we have done so we can re-create what we already see in front of us over and over again. If that sole change was made in how we approach education ā the new souls coming to this earth now & in āschoolā can & will ( and many despite the current system still do) change the world at a pace faster than anyone can imagined. In my opinionĀ we are not the teachers of the children. They areĀ our teachers. We areĀ their students. They are here to teach us whatās new & shiny & cominā āround the corner. Its our job to support their brilliance, be their when they fall, make sure they feel supported and safe as they guide us past everything we thought possible. But itās not our job as educators to āforceā old news of was onto a child who already, from birth knows his/her likes. dislikes and path. With that one shift ā the words āschoolā, āinsitutionā and āeducationā would take on completely new meanings.
No. 11) Ā What made you decide at some point to go play in the subway (metro) stations?
Well, itās all written out in detail in my bookĀ The Subway Diaries – thatās one of the reasons I wrote the book because people kept asking me that question and the answer is ā¦ well I guess long enough to write a book about Very short answer is I had an accident (which Iām now 100% recovered from) and it was the one thing I could think of doing to stay creative and earn a living while I was recovering. Since that first day underground, however, it has become so much more. The trains have literally changed my life. (see The Subway Diaries on Google or excerpts on my website for more detail. Or you can get a copy at
No. 12) What compelled you to write your book Ā the Subway Diaries?
The phenomenal subculture of artists and musicians that exist underground in the city of NY. That community and the freedom they allowed me as an artist has changed my life. I also wrote it, not just as a personal journey, but as a sociological study of that magical subculture that exists underneath the streets of New York. I wrote it as well, as a wake up call to the choices we have made as a society above ground. Every time Iād descend into the trains it would hit me like a ton of bricks how far off track weāve gotten with our priorities. It hit me that with all the emphasis above ground on money, power, status, youth and beauty and greed, that weād lost track of what we as humans actually thrive on. Itās what we thrive on continuously underground ā truth, art, happiness, generosity, kindness, compassion, art, joyā¦thatās why Iām there, thatās why I wrote the book.
No. 13) What do you hope to transmit through your music
Movement ā movement of energy, be a happy, make-you-want-to d-dance energy or an energy that helps you remember something you had forgotten in the past. If I can move a soul with a song; move a soul to dance, clap, smile when they had been otherwise frowning, to laughter, to tears. If I can move a soul, even one soul, Iāve done my job. Thatās why I write, thatās why I sing. Thatās why I live. To absorb life and convey that movement back out into the universe. To me thereās nothing better than to be a part of that magical process.
Heidi, thank you again for sharing so very generously with us, your thoughts and feelings and talent.Ā I feel grateful that our paths have crossed and I am looking forward to working with you again.Ā Until then my friend, keep well and be blessed!
TO THE READER :
You are cordially invited to visit Heidiās links below to find out more about this wonderful artist.Ā I urge you as well to get a copy of her book The Subway Diaries which you can get via the link below.Ā As always, your comments are welcome and I thank you.Ā Enjoy!
photo credits: Harvey Manger-Weil,
Poet Minor,Mitchell Parsons,Tolga Adonali,Ā Henning P Fischer.