Singer Christa Couture back on road after tragedies

What: Christa Couture (with Brodie Dawson)

When: Friday, 7:30 p.m.

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Where: Solstice Café

Tickets: $10

Christa Couture had two sons. And then, in two separate and unrelated tragedies, she had none.

While her first son died when he was one day old due to birth complications, the loss of her second son at 14 months put the singer-songwriter in a place where she felt she couldn’t even make music anymore.

“I felt I couldn’t go back. I felt like I could only put myself out there and take my broken heart on the road so much,” she said in an interview. “At the same time, it’s really the only thing for me to do.”

More than two years later, Couture is touring again, having written her third album The Living Record in the aftermath of that loss. The tour began Wednesday in Nanaimo, with several Vancouver Island and Gulf Island dates, and reaches Victoria Friday.

Couture said the process of reaching a place where she could perform again was a gradual one. She began writing and playing again on her own. A turning point came when she wrote Lucky or Lost, a song with a line questioning whether she’d ever perform again: “It’s hard to say if I’ll ever play in front of gathered hearts again, unless they’re open,” she sings.

“When I wrote it, I was sobbing and having this totally cathartic moment on my piano,” she said. “But I wrote that song and I realized how much I still really needed to share my story and how much I got out of that.”

Despite its birth from grief, The Living Record is an album filled with hope. There are songs like The Way of the Dodo (The Living Record) about the lasting impression of those who are gone, which Couture said she still has trouble performing live, and Parasite, about being haunted by “what ifs.” But there’s also You Were Here in Michigan, about the moment Couture felt happiness again, and Paper Anniversary, a love song for her husband.

Couture said the positive tone of the album was intentional. “I wanted to write something that was more about what to do next, instead of what happened,” she said. “How do you carry these experiences with you and how do you move forward.”

She also wrote an album following the loss of her first son. But while The Wedding Singer and the Undertaker was more specific in describing her grief as a mother, she wrote The Living Record about loss in general. The response has been positive. Audience members experiencing all forms of loss have told her they can relate.

Couture’s positive outlook may come from the perspective she has gained, facing more challenges than many people. At 13, she lost a leg to bone cancer. But after 20 years as an amputee, she says that, in the scheme of the things, it’s no big deal.

“Sometimes when people find that out about [my leg] and I haven’t shared with them anything about my kids, they’re like ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine.’ And I’m like, ‘It’s a leg. Let me tell you, there are worse things.’ ”

She is reminded at her yearly check-in to the cancer clinic, where she sees people living with cancer, that she is lucky. But great loss can also give you a different view of what’s important in life, as well as the human capacity for resilience.

“It’s devastating,” she said of losing her sons. “Sometimes I say it out loud and I think, ‘holy s--t.’ We each are living our lives and all of our lives are incredibly hard. But you still keep doing it. And I sometimes think, right, this is me still doing it.”

asmart@timescolonist.com

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