Singer/songwriter Cara Luft is one of those delightful people whose joy in what she does overflows on virtually every level.
The amazingly talented folk songstress plays Fratters on Feb. 1.
She had an early start with honing her musical skills – raised by folk-musician parents in the heart of the passionate traditional music community in Calgary, she was steeped as a youth in a setting of spiritual music, house concerts, folk clubs and festivals. She got her start at age four playing autoharp and dulcimer in her family’s band.
But things got even better.
A whole new world opened up when her parents gave her an acoustic guitar and she discovered Led Zeppelin.
An accomplished guitarist not to mention a captivating singer, she also knows how to keep her audiences engaged — Luft’s shows flow with engaging, witty stories and powerful original and traditional songs.
Her career as a musician developed organically, although she quit university after three years – she was studying education – and firmly opted to pursue music full time.
Her latest solo CD, Darlingford, is a stunning collection of songs drawn from her life experiences. The CD was released in 2012, but hasn’t been widely introduced to Canadian fans via touring as Luft has spent lots of time overseas. Audiences across Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and England are loving her unique sound, but she’s thrilled to be back on home soil.
“I’m working on a new record right now, but this tour is in support of Darlingford,” she said. “I did a lot of overseas touring and just a little Canadian tour with the record, so it’s a treat to go back out again and share songs and stories from Darlingford, and play some of the new material as well.”
A co-founder of folk trio The Wailin’ Jennys in 2002, Luft headed out on her own in 2004. Her critically acclaimed CD The Light Fantastic, recorded following her departure from The Jennys, drew praise from across North America, Europe and the UK.
Meanwhile, on top of touring overseas last year, Luft was also chosen to represent Canada in a musical collaboration project between Canada and the UK, alongside British artist Bella Hardy, a project spearheaded by Folk Music Canada and the English Folk Dance and Song Society.
It’s been an amazingly creative experience. Hardy came to Canada last year to work with Luft – the two had never met and weren’t really familiar with each other’s music. But they clicked, and Luft will head to England in October for another stint of collaboration. It’s done nothing but enrich her personally.
“The idea is that something really unique and creative comes out of it, and that its exposure for Canadian artists in the UK and the English artists here in Canada,” she said. “It was a wonderful and unique experience. And it just sparks all of these creative ideas – when you write with someone you’ve never written with before, they will make all these suggestions and you think ‘Oh, I never thought of that – from chord choice to melody choice – you name it. It’s a very different ballgame then writing by yourself.
“Bouncing ideas back and forth is very therapeutic.”
As for her own new project that is in the works, she’s finding the theme of ‘home’ surfacing as the songs take shape. She admits that she’s feeling pretty tired these days, so the idea of home – and the comfort and peace that represents – is on her mind.
“I’ve been without a home since Christmas 2012 and it’s something I long for. It’s interesting to see how that desire has crept into my ideas for songs.”
But hitting the stage still has a way of energizing her like nothing else does. She really can’t imagine a different path.
“It’s so interesting that when I go to a community and feel connected with an audience, it gives me that resurgence of energy that I need.”