PEI

Summerside native Alli Walker on why she calls her music 'conscious country'

Singer Alli Walker grew up in Summerside, P.E.I., and has spent the last decade learning her craft. She said she wrote songs about booze, boys and break-ups before discovering her own voice as a musician.

Singer tackles everything from mental health to cancer in debut album

Alli Walker's debut album The Basement Sessions: What I Have Learned So Far will be out Sept. 13. (Eric Paul)

Singer Alli Walker grew up in Summerside, P.E.I., and has spent the last decade learning her craft and the message she wants to share.

Walker calls her music "mindful music," or "conscious country" because she writes mostly about health issues, both mental and physical. Her debut album The Basement Sessions: What I Have Learned So Far will be out in Sept. 13.

"I call my album The Basement Sessions because I record and write everything in my basement," she told CBC Radio: Mainstreet P.E.I. host Matt Rainnie.

One of those songs is called Fight Till The End.

"I wrote that song in my basement in 20 minutes because I was just thinking about my uncle who is battling cancer right now and has been battling cancer for quite a few years and he lives in P.E.I.," she said.

Walker is now based in Toronto and said that everyone knows someone who has been battling cancer or another health issue, or maybe struggled with health issues themselves.

"It's really an anthem for anybody who is fighting for anything in their life."

Whether that is health issues, your dreams, your marriage, Walker said.

"I think sometimes we all just need that pick me up that we can be proud of ourselves for how far we've come."

Years crafting the message

Walker said she spent ten years trying to figure out what she wanted to say with her music and who she wanted to be as an artist.

"I think that really is the biggest struggle as an artist."

It is a big world and you have to do something to stand out in the music industry, she said.

She was writing songs about booze, boys and break-ups — "I was always trying to write a hit or write a song for radio."

Then she realized those topics were dated, she said.

"I don't drink anymore and I'm happily married, so I don't really know what I am talking about anymore."

It was when she threw out all the rules that she found her voice. Walker said she was working on her personal development and thought, "I just need to talk about what is going on in my life right now."

Personal struggles

Growing up, she had stomach issues, was bullied and dealt with anxiety so she started writing it about it, Walker said.

'I'm not trying to tell anyone how to live their life, but this is how I have overcome it and maybe it can inspire you,' says Walker. (Kathy Spence)

"I had really bad acne and I basically went into hiding for a few years because I was so ashamed of my face."

Then one day she told herself, "I can't hide who I am anymore. I know I want to be a musician."

She posted a picture of herself on social media without any makeup or filters while she was in the mist of an acne breakout. She told her followers she had been lying, this is what she actually looked like.

"I thought I was going to go down to zero followers, but the opposite happened. Everyone was so proud of me, but it also gave them the opportunity to maybe open up about what they have been dealing with."

Walker started to show her vulnerability online by talking about the things she was struggling with that others might be too.

"That translated into my music and I call it 'mindful music' and 'conscious country' because it's all about mental health subjects and empowering messages."

Every time Walker works through a personal issue she said she turns it into a song.

"I'm not trying to tell anyone how to live their life, but this is how I have overcome it and maybe it can inspire you."

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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