Brooke Fraser - "Something in the Water": SXSW 2011 Showcasing Artist
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Uploaded on Feb 7, 2011
Fraser's confidence is rooted in a life-long history steeped in music. Her mom discovered her plinking out "Do-Re-Mi" from The Sound of Music on the piano when she was two, and made sure her daughter had access to instruments. Fraser grew up in New Zealand's capital city of Wellington, and her earliest musical memory is of watching her great-uncle Athol, "a one-armed trumpet player," practice circular breathing on his horn. At seven, she began piano lessons. At 12, she began writing songs after a music teacher asked her class to compose an original tune about Christmas. "I discovered that I felt at home in the process of creating words and melodies," she recalls. "And I've been writing ever since."
Fraser fell in love with the confessional lyrics and timeless melodies of James Taylor, Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Paula Cole, and eventually began to play the guitar. In 2002, when she was 18, Fraser signed with Sony Music and moved to Auckland where she played regularly at local venues while she wrote the songs that would appear on her debut album, What To Do With Daylight. That album, released in New Zealand in 2003, debuted at No. 1 and achieved gold status the same week. It eventually went eight times platinum, selling more than 120,000 copies in New Zealand alone, and remained in the Top 10 on the album charts for more than a year. The album spawned five Top 20 singles and made Fraser a star in her home country, leading to 2004 tours of Australia and New Zealand with John Mayer and David Bowie.
In 2005, Brooke took a trip to Rwanda, 11 years after a genocide that claimed the lives of nearly one million people. During the journey, she met and befriended a number of Rwandans who entrusted their stories to her, including an orphan named Albertine, the namesake of her second album, which was released in the U.S. in May 2008. After being featured on the iTunes homepage as an "Editor's Choice" selection, Albertine album climbed to No. 5 on the digital retailer's U.S. album chart. Fraser toured the States that fall, winning over audiences with her dry wit and warm stage presence.
Now she's starting anew with Flags, the title inspired by her writing trips into the more remote parts of the U.S. "I was traversing these incredible landscapes and wondering at all the people who had worked this land and what their lives were like, how they had come to arrive in and then leave these places. One day this image of a flag popped into my mind and I thought, 'Our lives are like flags - flying for a short while, a stake in the ground, marking our territory,'" she says. "We fly our colors - our history, belief system, culture, identity -- but eventually our flag will wear out and return to the ground and someone else's flag will replace our own. I feel like that theme weaves its way through my new songs, like 'Ice On Her Lashes', 'Crows and Locusts' and of course 'Flags'. The characters in these songs were flags, and now we've come to plant our flags in the ground where they once were."
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