Leah Hokanson said she doesn’t know why, but a couple of years ago the Gabriola Island musician felt compelled to focus on and develop her songwriting.
“It just seemed like it was time to take that leap,” she said.
It’s been about a year since Hokanson released her first album, Facets, and said she’d like to release a follow-up sometime in 2020.
”Facets was my first experience recording an album of original songs and like many firsts I learned a lot,” she said. “It was a big learning curve and I would love to do it again knowing what I know now.”
Hokanson continued writing during the summer, composing many songs on the baritone ukulele, an instrument she took up only a year ago. She said it’s been an “interesting experiment” building her songs around simple chords.
Among the songs she wrote over the summer is an environmental piece about the effect of noise pollution on whales, as well as satirical songs that poke fun at herself and address human and cultural quirks. She said a recurring theme of hers is spirituality and “our connection with the divine or the source or the whole or whatever you want to call it.”
“I consider myself to be a spiritual being having a human experience,” Hokanson said. “And so the theme of being a spiritual being, I guess that would naturally come up because I find to write about it and sing about it to be very connecting and very grounding.”
Next week local crowds will get to hear some of those songs for the first time as Hokanson gets set for a pair of solo performances at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre on Jan. 9 and Nanaimo’s Unitarian Hall on Jan. 11. She’ll be accompanied by her baritone ukulele, piano and, as she’s written some chants, she hopes to be joined by the audience as well.
Hokanson said for the first time her set will be entirely composed of original material. She said she’s enjoyed playing her own compositions and said it’s a different experience than performing other people’s work.
“My heart is in it in a different kind of way and I think hopefully that comes through,” Hokanson said. “There’s something quite wonderful about just wanting to say something and finding a way to express it. There’s something unique about that.”
WHAT’S ON … Leah Hokanson performs at the Gabriola Arts and Heritage Centre, 476-510 South Rd., on Thursday, Jan. 9 at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance from North Road Sports or $25 at the door. Hokanson also plays Nanaimo’s Unitarian Hall, 595 Townsite Rd., on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. Tickets $20 at the door.