A musical tribute to her adopted land
Nancy Ruth is a Canadian singer/songwriter with a lifelong passion for Spain. Nancy, who is originally from Victoria, British Columbia, says that ever since she was a child, she was drawn to Spain. Perhaps, she says, it is because she has Spanish blood after a love affair between a Canadian ancestor and a member of the Spanish royal court.
Either way, the professional singer has been in Spain, on and off, for 15 years. She originally came to write and to seek inspiration for new material, fell in love with the country and returned every year until five years ago when she decided to make Rincón de la Victoria her permanent base.
“I can live by the beach, feel connected and isolated at the same time and be in easy reach of the airport, which is vital for me with all of the travelling that I do,” she says of her decision to settle in the Axarquía town nearest to the city of Malaga.
Nancy, who has been a professional singer for 29 years, spends a lot of time travelling and has just returned to Spain after a tour of Greece and Italy where she promoted her latest album, Sangria Jam. The first track, ‘Málaga’, is a homage to the province that she has made home and the album reflects her passion for flamenco, the Andalusian way of life and her own personal integration into Spanish culture.
When Nancy first arrived in Spain she did not speak Spanish, but says that she loved the “sound and rhythm” of the language. She signed up to a language course in Malaga, immersed herself in Spanish life and spoke no English. All of her musicians are Spanish, as are the people that have helped to produce the latest CD.
Nancy, whose mother is Irish and therefore has dual nationality, says that at times she felt incredibly lonely as she did not communicate in her native tongue at all.
“It wasn’t just the language at the beginning,” she says, but the culture and way of doing business.
Nancy adds that at the beginning she came up against a lot of “machismo” which she hadn’t encountered before, as well as countless occasions when musicians would either turn up to rehearsals an hour or so late, or not at all.
Eventually she says that she “gained the respect” of the people she was working with, earned a reputation for doing things correctly, paying on time and gaining the all-important ‘confianza’, or trust, that is central to any relationship in Spain.
The hard work and sharp learning curve paid off and the lifelong desire to learn not only the language but also the culture clearly resonates through her music.
Mixing flamenco rhythms, with Spanish guitar, bolero and jazz, ‘Sangria Jam’ pays tribute to her adopted land, with the appeal to English speakers that she sings mainly in English. The reason for this she says is simply that her followers are either native English speakers, or fans from other countries where, “they understand English better than Spanish”.
She has had complaints when she has sung in Spanish, so Sangria Jam is sung in English. However, she has a following in South America and has toured in Chile, Argentina and Peru, where she sings much more in Spanish, which she is now fluent in.
Nancy returns to her native Canada regularly, not only to visit family and friends, but also to give concerts, where she admits she gets the best reaction from her audience.
“I suppose I have more affinity with a Canadian audience and it’s a pretty overwhelming experience.”
While in Rincón de la Victoria, Nancy writes music, studies the guitar and piano, which she plays, along with the ukulele, and rehearses. She scouts for musicians in Malaga and at music events around Spain and organises her next tours. She is also currently promoting Sangria Jam and says she would like to perform more locally.
There are plans to incorporate video and theatre into the next project, to give a more visual description to her songs and show more of the area that has given her so much inspiration. Nancy’s agents have just confirmed a tour of New Zealand and Australia for February and March 2017. Tour dates can be found on www.nancyruth.com.
“There is a lot of uncertainty in the music business; you don’t know when a tour is going to be confirmed,” Nancy says, reflecting the words of the first song on the new album about coming back to Malaga, where she sings, “When I step off the plane the sweet air and soggy breeze fills my lungs; it always feels the same.”source surinenglish