Exhibitionists·Video

This musician hardly spoke as a child — but now she's finding her voice and overcoming trauma

In this video, Kinley Dowling opens up about the powerful motivations behind her song "Microphone" and how she's found the voice she didn't have as a child.

Kinley Dowling has taken a long journey to finally tell her story

Kinley Dowling has been loved as part of Hey Rosetta!, but recently she went solo. In this video, she opens up about the powerful reasons why, and how she found a voice she didn't have as a child. 4:12

Kinley Dowling has been best known for her silky string work in Hey Rosetta!, and she's been an integral part of the musical landscape in Canada for over 15 years — playing with bands like Stars and Broken Social Scene. In October 2016, Kinley decided to go solo and released her own debut album, Letters Never Sent. It's a brand new chapter in the proud Charlottetown native's career.

The album was also a watershed moment for the musician in her personal life. Dowling was sexually assaulted at her high school prom and never told anybody at the time. 16 years later, it only took a matter of hours to write the song "Microphone" — a cathartic release for Dowling, and an important representation of how she's found her voice. The artist was a selective mute as a child, rarely speaking to anybody at school. Now, her song has resonated with her listeners: her voice and words have prompted messages from women and men all over the country, many of whom wish to share their story and are searching for an outlet — a prospect that can often seem impossible.

Dowling's healing is not over — she still has an innate phobia of performing her own songs live. While the selective mutism of her childhood has mostly subsided, the condition's been tough to shake in the face of overwhelming demand for live shows. So, she's dipped her toes in and released a long series of music videos (produced and directed by the filmmaker of this video, Jenna MacMillan). She's easing into public performance, the final step in her lifelong transition from not being able to speak at all to telling her story to the entire world through her chosen microphone.

She's taken a long journey to finally tell her story.

Kinley Dowling (who is nominated for six Music PEI Awards) will be performing with Dennis Ellsworth and Dylan Menzie at the East Coast Music Awards in Saint John, NB, April 26-30. Filmmaker Jenna MacMillan is in post-production on a music video for KINLEY's song "Blackbird".

And Dowling and MacMillan together are working on a project called "Sharing the Microphone," based on Kinley's experience. Learn more here.

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