Tara Shannon is ready to #SpeakUp with new single “Say”

Award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter Tara Shannon is known for her heartfelt and meaningful songs, but her latest single “Say” is extra special. The track is in support of Advance Care Planning Initiative in Canada’s #SpeakUp campaign, led by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Association (CHPCA). This initiative strives to encourage Canadians to have conversations with their loved ones about palliative care – a conversation that is often difficult, but very important to ensure that the wishes and beliefs of ourselves and loved ones are respected when we near the end of our lives.

The song “Say,” co-written by Shannon and Hayley McLean, carries a soulful melody and lyrics that perfectly encompass the message of the campaign — to help bridge the gap between loved ones and the discussion around advance care planning, and to promote empathy and compassion.

The busy musician took some time to chat with us about the song and the importance of the #SpeakUp campaign.

Ottawa Life: What inspired you to get involved with Advance Care Planning in Canada's #SpeakUp campaign? Why do you think this is such an important conversation?

Tara Shannon: When I was first approached by the Executive Director of Advance Care Planning, I kind of laughed because my music tends to be on the sadder side but I didn’t think I had reached the sadness of death yet. But, once I understood that their message was about encouraging conversation and connection, I started to see how we could approach the song; that the core idea of the song would be “talk to me, tell me how you feel about this” kind of thing. I think it’s really important to normalize conversations about sickness and end of life because once we do, it can soften the fear around it. Creating a safe place with people who love us to express what you want and need when the time comes is empowering and takes a lot of the burden off loved ones and healthcare workers too.

Can you tell us a bit more about the single “Say?”  What was the process like creating the song?

Tara Shannon: Writing a song for a client is a very different experience than writing a song for myself as an artist. It’s closer to the experience of writing a song for another artist for example – where you are trying to take on their voice, what they are trying to say and telling their story. Taking the time to really understand what they want to say is an important part of the process and getting my own self out of the way so their story can come through more completely.

Do you have any advice for anyone that's about to have the advance care planning conversation with a loved one?

Tara Shannon: Be brave. Have faith in yourself and your loved ones. You should really take the time to explore what you really want and need. Try to have fun with it and keep it light. We all know we are going to pass on from this life. It’s not a maybe, it’s a when. So, keeping it light and fun in any way you can think of can help ease the hesitations. When I did it with my kids, they had a good laugh because I explained to them that I want to be turned into a tree; there are tree kits you can buy that you mix with your ashes and then plant. I said I wanted to be a big tree in the backyard of our family home so I could watch over them all the time. They asked me why I couldn’t just be a normal mom like everyone else, haha!

Tara Shannon’s single “Say” is streaming now on major platforms including YouTube, Apple Music and Spotify. For more about the #SpeakUp campaign, click here.