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Emma Cloney turns loss into lyrics

Emma Cloney knows the true meaning of loss. Her experiences have led her on a musical journey resulting in her new CD, Stars for Streetlights.
Singer-songwriter Emma Cloney is the musical guest on SCENE with CBC host Bruce Ladan. (CBC)

Emma Cloney knows the true meaning of loss.

After a rocky childhood, to raising her own family on a horse ranch while attending school full-time, she experienced loss to the point where she and her family didn't know where their next meal was coming from.

Cloney's family's experience has led her on a musical journey, resulting in her new CD, Stars for Streetlights.

It all started with the loss of her home.

"You kind of know how far your money is going to go, but if anything changes, you could be potentially one or two paycheques from abject poverty," she explained.

"I could see for a long time that the wiggle room — the ability to be OK for a little while — was slowly decreasing, and we looked around and we said, 'How do we get out of this situation?'"

So they sold vehicles and furniture. Cloney auctioned off most of her instruments. She even swapped banjos for textbooks. Still, it wasn't enough.

"You get to a point where you realize that what you're fighting for are things … and that all the things you've acquired are weighing you down so heavily that you are literally a slave to them. That's where we were," she said.

Cloney's experience has also taught her about gratitude.

"It was an incredibly hard lesson to learn because I felt so lost when the stuff was gone … then later, the gratitude came when I realized that I by myself was enough," she said. "The gratitude came from seeing my children happy."

It took Cloney eight months before she picked up an instrument again. The first song she wrote reflected her loss.

"Let it Lie was about the lie that my husband kept telling me" she said.

"He said, 'We're gonna look back on this and it's gonna be a good thing.' I knew he was hurting and he was desperately trying to make me feel better."

Cloney has also lost weight over a hundred pounds. "The weight loss was simply a product of understanding that I had filled my life with tons of clutter and that the clutter weighed me down," she admitted.

"The inside and the outside were reflecting each other, and I realized I was doing the same thing to my body as I did with belongings. I was hoarding emotions."

Losing her house, losing possessions, losing weight, losing the clutter internally and externally was what fired Cloney up to record this album.

Emma Cloney releases Stars for Streetlights on Saturday, Oct. 12, at the West End Cultural Centre.

Before then, hear her in conversation with CBC host Bruce Ladan on SCENE On Air on Oct. 12. The show airs every Saturday from 5 - 6 p.m. on CBC Radio One, 89.3 FM/990 AM/97.9 FM in Brandon.

You can also hear more of Bruce Ladan's interview with Emma Cloneyby clicking the Listen link above.

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