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Posts tagged: Heidi Kile

Nov 19 2011

Pushing the limits: Interviewed by Canadian artist/blogger MicheleAndree Lemieux


By likemindblog

Heidi-home articlshot4

HEIDI KOLE, singer, composer, author, teacher, she’s genuine, authentic, passionate and her story touches the heart, the mind and the soul.  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.  Heidi, welcome and thank you for participating in this project by answering the following questions.

No. 1)  What is music to and for you?  (in general and personally)

To me, music is…wow…I hesitate to say everything as I wouldn’t want ot put that much pressure on one thing in life, but it’s 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 – and mostly the former two.  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 hangin’ 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 it’s power for very long, I begin to wither. It’s 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)  What inspires you? Heidi 58small

Gosh – life. I know that sounds trite perhaps but ti’s 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 ’stored’ for later use for me to draw on. I love how a phrase contains an entire song in it’s innate rhythm. I love how being moved by the energy of a perfect day or it’s 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)  When you are playing, creating, singing, where does it take you?  Where does your mind travel?

Ah….good question. When writing, my mind has to actually ‘leave’ 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 you’re familiar with mediation of any kind, that’s 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 that’s 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 “The Subway Diaries” 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 one’s ego when you sing there. No one cares if you’re there or not, no one even knows you’re 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 ‘the image’, ‘the package’, ‘the look’ – and one can even hide behind that mirage on stage. I’m not saying by doing so you’re making art, it’s just that the environment allows for the ego to participate and the music to take a back seat to the ego. But….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 ‘loose your mind’ 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 that’s being birthed is right there, in front of you, carrying everyone who hears it.

No. 4)  Do you think music, painting and health are related and if so, how?

Heidi articleshot3Absolutely 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 ‘modern’ 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 ‘eating’ 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 ‘loose’ themselves, let their mind ‘be’, discharge one’s ego, let if go off duty for a time can be nothing but healing in nature. I have many more thoughts on this subject but I’d be typing forever.

No. 5)  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 I’m in heaven. I’ve even mentioned a few times to my friends in the trains that “I could seriously die right here on the platforms and be completely content”. I feel that good :)

No. 6)  Do you identify with your songs and if so, on what level?

I’m 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 ‘morph’ for me, For example it will  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 I’m conveying through the very same song. So, yes I do identify, each song for it’s own unique reasons and those elements are fostered, highlighted in what moves me by what I or others have been recently experiencing.

No. 7)  Under what conditions do you work best? Heidi articleshot

Gosh – relaxed I guess. And one would not, innately think of the Subways as ‘relaxed’ but for me the trains are where I exhale. Same goes for songwriting but I’d add to songwriting ‘inspired’ as it’s 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. 8) Does playing music, singing, help you connect with your Higher Self, whatever that is for you?  (You’ve 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 ‘higher’ or ‘true’ self, it’s not music – it’s simply uninspired noise filling up airspace. But with that connection honestly I have found you can sing any words, any melody anything & if you’re connected to source it will move people  – ie if I am moved, they are moved. I don’t use the term ‘higher self’ 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 ‘old hat’…someone else’s manifestation. Whereas the energy and vibrational power each of us holds to endlessly create is enormous and rarely tapped in society as it’s stood over the pat hundreds of years. However I do see that changing and  people ‘waking up’ 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 you’re out there firing away, digging beyond what we’ve for so long considered ‘real’. I want to thank you for that.

No. 9)  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 ’source’ amidst the rules, regulations and other people’s manifestations of what a functional society ’should’ 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 it’s 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 I’ve 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 it’s an arts school) the ‘dream’ has often been ‘trained’ out of them at a very young age and they have already in a sense, substituted their truth for someone else’s.  Short answer – yes, arts, athletics-anything that fosters creativity and freedom of self is vital to the complete development of all young souls.

Heidi articlesot2No. 10)  In your opinion, what could be a simple solution to improve creativity in the public school system?

Wow – big question and I’m not sure most would consider my answer ’simple’ but a ’solution’ 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 ‘training’ 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 – the new souls coming to this earth now & in ’school’ can & will ( and many despite the current system still do) change the world at a pace faster than anyone can imagined. In my opinion we are not the teachers of the children. They are our teachers. We are their students. They are here to teach us what’s new & shiny & comin’ ’round 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 it’s not our job as educators to ‘force’ old news of was onto a child who already, from birth knows his/her likes. dislikes and path. With that one shift – the words ’school’, ‘insitution’ and ‘education’ would take on completely new meanings.

No. 11)  What made you decide at some point to go play in the subway (metro) stations?

Well, it’s all written out in detail in my book The Subway Diaries – that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book because people kept asking me that question and the answer is … well I guess long enough to write a book about :) Very short answer is I had an accident (which I’m 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  the Subway Diaries? Heidi articlshot4

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 I’d descend into the trains it would hit me like a ton of bricks how far off track we’ve gotten with our priorities. It hit me that with all the emphasis above ground on money, power, status, youth and beauty and greed, that we’d lost track of what we as humans actually thrive on. It’s what we thrive on continuously underground – truth, art, happiness, generosity, kindness, compassion, art, joy…that’s why I’m there, that’s why I wrote the book.

No. 13) What do you hope to transmit through your music

Movement – 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, I’ve done my job. That’s why I write, that’s why I sing. That’s why I live. To absorb life and convey that movement back out into the universe. To me there’s 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.  I feel grateful that our paths have crossed and I am looking forward to working with you again.  Until then my friend, keep well and be blessed!

HeidikolefinalTO THE READER :

You are cordially invited to visit Heidi’s links below to find out more about this wonderful artist.  I urge you as well to get a copy of her book The Subway Diaries which you can get via the link below.  As always, your comments are welcome and I thank you.  Enjoy!








photo credits: Harvey Manger-Weil,

Poet Minor,Mitchell Parsons,Tolga Adonali, Henning P Fischer.


My name is Michele Andree. I am an artist, I paint musicians in action. I think I’m a musician at heart, my instrument being… a brush, so I play…brush and I paint… music.
I love jazz. I call it freedom music. It promotes special values. I love intelligent people and good conversations.

Some people ask me how music relates to art. Personally I find they go hand in hand. Music is what turns me on to painting. It makes me see colours

Nov 21 2010

We’re on air again!

Hey guys – if  you’re near your computer this Tues night – 8PM & 9PM EST “The Subway Diaries” is going to be on two radio shows (of course, I’ll be taggin’ along for the ride 🙂

First @ 8PM I’ll be on The Val & Betty Show. and @ 9PM The Tommy Pryor Show – both shows are on Centanni Broadcasting @ www.centannibroadcasting.com (Mac users download the following to hear program  windows-media-player.for-mac.com

Val & Betty focus on women’s topics & Tommy has traveled some of the most curious roads in New York City. He also has a blog attached to his show which is fascinating if you’re a fan of NYC history & culture both  past & present – yorkvillestoopstonuts.blogspot.com


Oct 12 2010

Quote of the week ~

Friend – “So, you been in jail?”

Me -“Me? No!”

Friend –Really? …Wow just seems like you’d be someone who’d been to jail…”

(One of my rapper friends while we were walkin’ along in Times Square havin’ a discussion on music, the street…being arrested & the like.)

NOTE: I’m takin’ ideas on the ‘right’ response to this?  Ideas? Please, do share … : )

May 07 2010

Nooks & Crannies

So, today I bought three t-shirts, a tank top,  a new bag to replace my rapidly dissolving one that I’ve been dragging around town, and a  a new dish drainer for the sink – all for $10.

Where you say? Well,  34th Street in NYC, NY of course. 34th Street where people come in by throngs to snatch up tasty bargains on one of the most popular shopping strips on the East Coast. You can tell you’re getting close to 34 St when you’re walking that neighborhood when you see person after person with that tell tale bright pink, Conway shopping bag. It’s unmistakable and is a backbone of the 34th Street experience.

Conway’s not fancy. They don’t have a dressing room, or a mirror, so it’s definitely a ‘commando’ shopping experience. But they have almost  everything, it  seems, a human  being could ever want; from clothes to housewares,  from bath products to shoes, from comforters  to the odd piece of furniture. It takes a certain amount of patience to wiggle through the isles not bigger than a bus isle, and wade through mountains of clothes piled high one on top of the other to find your perfect colour and of course, your size, which sometimes it seems they never have.You feel that way ’till you get brave and reach  your hand way into the base of the pile, pulling out a wad of clothing and plopping it on the top of the ‘display’ and voila! undoubtedly, if you really search with gumption, it’s there – your size, your colour, your everything and you feel so victorious.

Today I was victorious and feeling quite happy about that  fact.  As I walked out of Conway I happened to notice a huge sign displayed over the top of the store front (which by the way has never had doors. Winter and summer alike it’s like an open air market of goodies, but with a roof). The sign read; PRIME RETAIL SPACE AVAILABLE.

Conway? Conway’s going to? I was shocked and saddened.

I try, a I walk through the streets of Manhattan these days, to ignore the fact that so many streets now look exactly the same; same chain stores, same chain restaurants, same chain drug stores. I do my best to observe closely and see what’s really left of Manhattan.

Today, seeing that Conway’s life is now also coming to and end saddened me to no end. It saddened me not only because Conway is my ‘go to’ store when I need … you know, stuff when stuff wears out, but it pained me once again, for what it’s demise and so many staples of this city, represents.

I’m not sure those who run this city really get that people don’t come to Manhattan to go to The Gap, or Old Navy or visit Starbucks or grab a hot dog at a 7-11. In fact, people visit this marvelous messy, creative, bustling city for it’s uniqueness. But the very sad thing is the ‘same old same old’ is exactly what people are getting and are going to get from here on out. People will travel from Pittsburg to Peoria, from Dallas to Delaware and all across the globe and what they will find here is exactly what they have at home, in America at least – one big strip mall. Don’t get me wrong, Old Navy et al are superb for what they are, it’s just that there is no way a few minds can be everything. And  I don’t know about you, but every time I purchase  something ‘cool’ from  one of  the  chain stores I walk out knowing that at some  point I’ll see someone wearing exactly the same thing. That’s just creepy.

I’m pained to see my city dissolve so fast into an island of harmoniousness, a city of lemmings. It’s like one big Ground Hog Day here in Manhattan. It’s sad to see neighborhoods that were once bustling with small, independent shop owners, creating their little piece of the island now bulldozed into street after street of corporate chain stores. These people came here,  putting their unique stamp on the city with their family owned restauranta, shoe repair shoppes, pharmacies, ethnic grocery stores, and now, practically overnight their creations have been changed into block after block of ‘sameness’. In any neighborhood now in Manhattan, you can find your familiar CVS, your predictable Linens & Things, your friendly, all organic Chipolte Grill, your always dependable Gap, Old Navy, Sephora and of course Starbucks.

But do you really travel to experience ‘predictable’? Do you explore a place like Manhattan so you can feel safe in the knowing that you’ll  be able to familiarly navigate a Crate & Barrel just in a different local?

I think not. But the sad thing is that those who visit Manhattan from here on out will know no other Manhattan. They will only know it  from here on out as a strip mall, and in time a completely sanitized strip mall.

America is known for creativity and innovation. I’d like here to argue that sensitization and homogenises does not breed innovation. It does not breed creativity or it’s expression, and it certainly does  not breed freedom. In  fact I’d like to argue that the ‘cleaning up’ of our cities and neighborhoods is leading to the suppression of creativity and individuality. It’s leading to a few people with a lot of  power telling us what we can eat, how we can dress and how we are to behave. That concept alone scares the crap out of me.

I live in a neighborhood called “Hells Kitchen” – which is somewhat of a joke or perhaps just an irony,  at this point in history since on one corner of our block there’s a Citibank, the other a  Chase Bank and the other is now home to a Starbucks. The one free corner is my building. Across the street is another 62 story double high rise going up  where a small independent theater used to stand. This double high rise is the third erected in 6 months and the non chain shops that try to make it in these neighborhoods with such inflated rents, open and close faster than you can learn their names.

This week has been an anomaly in what I’ve experienced, and perhaps it’s driven home once again, why I love the underground so very much. Normally I can sing the trains daily to ground myself and remind myself that life and humanity is inherently creative, inherently expressive and inherently messy. That’s how I remind myself of the true nature of humanity and I love it that way. I love when random people pass, wearing whatever they feel speaks to their heart the very best, dancing if they’re moved to dance, singing if they’re moved to sing and clapping if they’re moved to clap. I love the randomness,  spontaneity, unpredictability and the messiness of it all. Daily that creative chaos means more and more to me as Bloomberg, the huge developers and moneid corporations above ground continue with their mission to ‘clean up New York’.  Daily I cling to the bits of artistic  ‘chaos’ that still exist in New York. The bits of true humanity, the part (our creativity) that set us apart from the other animals on the planet or the dog in a Pavlovian experiment. Soon I fear, we will all be part of one large Pavlovian experiment. If we’re not already.

I think the clerk at Conway said it best when she, as she put my ‘loot’ in a bright pink bag; “I know, pretty soon there wont’ be anymore nooks and crannies to this city”

I already miss the ‘nooks and crannies’ that used to populate and make up the heartbeat of Manhattan, and it pains me to no end when the bits that are left are bulldozed to death in one day my money and power and some image of perfection.

If you, yourself have a ‘nook’ or a ‘cranny’ in your neighborhood,  no matter where you live; visit it, patronize it frequently and get to know it’s owner. You never know if one day you’ll wake up and in it’s stead will be a glistening 7-11.

My thought of the week – given that I’ve been not able to sing and have instead been silently meaning above ground versus nestled comfortably in my underground cocoon is; “Please, powers that be, please stop taking the New York out of New York. Please, before it’s too late”


PS remember your new password unless I or you has already changed it is 1bc1234 : )