Sunday February 19, 2017

Christa Couture on love, loss and the power of music to hold things together

Christa Couture won a 2008 Canadian Aboriginal Achievement Award for Best Folk Acoustic Album.

Christa Couture won a 2008 Canadian Aboriginal Achievement Award for Best Folk Acoustic Album. (Christa Couture/Facebook)

Listen to Full Episode 18:39

This episode originally aired July 24, 2016

For much of her life, music has been the way for Christa Couture to learn, love and heal from heartbreaking loss.

"Music has been a lifeline for me, absolutely," said the folk and roots artist. She's released seven albums including her latest, Long Time Leaving, which was fuelled by a divorce.

"I've had a lot of loss in my life. It's like my thing ... that's dark," she laughed. "Dark humour also helps me cope, music and dark humour."

Long Time Leaving cover

Christa Couture's Long Time Leaving. (courtesy Christa Couture)

It was music that helped Couture heal after the death of her son Emmett in 2006 and again after her second child Ford, who was born in 2009, died from a congenital heart defect at just 14 months old.

Instead of hiding away from the overwhelming grief, Couture wrote songs and found comfort in sharing them with as many people as she could.

"Grief is a very lonely feeling and so getting to make songs about it and share those songs was a way that I could be less alone," she said. 

For Couture, sharing her story made people feel welcome to share their own tales of loss with her. 

But while themes of loss play throughout much of her personal journey, her songs don't dwell in that darkness. In fact, music has been a constant point of positivity in her life.

"My father was a singer, my mom is a singer, my sister is musical. Our family events were always around the piano. All the cousins played instruments," she recalled.

In the Couture household, music was used to teach, love, and to remember addresses, phone numbers and other important information.

"We were a very musical family, it was kind of the heart of our life," she said. 

Christa Couture

Christa Couture's latest album is called Long Time Leaving. (Jen Squires)

That connection to the music community has also given back to Couture in unexpected and generous ways. When she was 11 years old, Couture lost her left leg to bone cancer and struggled with her self-esteem.

But as an adult that changed.

"I decided that instead of trying to hide my disability that I would celebrate it because it is also kind of cool, like there's not that many one-legged people," she said. 

A public funding campaign saw fans raise $25,000 for a new high-tech prosthetic leg, one that she immediately went about decorating. The fibreglass shell was laminated with a full length floral design.

"It looks, sometimes, like I have this full leg tattoo. At a glance some people are like 'nice ink'," she laughed. "It's my favourite accessory, it goes with everything!"

This week's Playlist

Christa Couture

Christa Couture


Christa Couture - Zookeeper
‚ÄčThe Beatles - I Want to Hold Your Hand
Buffy Sainte-Marie - She Used to Wanna Be a Ballerina
Christa Couture - Declaration of Spring
Moe Clark - I Find Grace
Christa Couture - Way of the Dodo (The Living Record)
Christa Couture (live) - Alone In This 

stories from this episode