On March 31 Nanaimo singer-songwriter Laura Kelsey released her new book Singing for a Mate in the Shadow of Merlins and accompanying EP, Three Bird Songs. (Photo courtesy Joanne Dzierza)

Nanaimo singer makes most of newfound free time, releasing new book and EP

Laura Kelsey had been working on ‘Singing for a Mate in the Shadow of Merlins’ since 2017

With her scheduled performances cancelled due to COVID-19, Nanaimo singer-songwriter Laura Kelsey has had time to finish off a project that she’s been working on for the past three years.

“It’s made life even more uncertain,” she said of the pandemic. “And you might as well get the things done that you want to do.”

On March 31 Kelsey released Singing for a Mate in the Shadow of Merlins, a book of songs, poetry, stories and drawings inspired by her observations of birds dating back to 2017. She also put out an accompanying EP, Three Bird Songs.

“Some people say that I have more bird experiences than most people but I think I’m just looking out for them more, maybe,” Kelsey said. “I think everybody can have a lot of different natural experiences if they just have their eyes open to them.”

Kelsey said most of the work in the book and on the EP is based on real experiences, like the time in spring 2018 when some pesky merlins nested in her yard until a raven came to eat their young. Kelsey includes a recording of the merlins’ “last stand” with the raven on the Three Bird Songs track Just Nature.

“They were really loud, annoying, they were eating all of the birds in the yard and I wanted them to go away. But when the raven came and raided their nest I was heartbroken for them,” she said.

But the project isn’t all sombre realism, Kelsey said, noting that the stories in the book are “a little bit silly, too.” She said there’s one story about a hummingbird getting stuck in someone’s leg, and in another, someone puts a bird’s nest in their hair to hide it from their mother.

Kelsey said she’s long been interested in birds and has even been compared to one on many occasions, but she never really thought about it until recently.

“Throughout my life, even in elementary school, people would say something like, ‘You eat like a bird,’ or, ‘You sing like a bird,’” she said. “And then just in the past few years I thought, ‘Well, maybe I should relate to them more.’ Maybe there is something there.”

Among the events Kelsey expected to perform at was the Shine 2020 Nanaimo Regional General Hospital fundraiser, which has been rescheduled from April 11 to Sept. 26. Kelsey and local musician and producer Bruce Gerrish were going to debut a new song, but in the meantime they collected “uplifting video of people’s favourite outdoor places” to compile into a music video.

“The song’s chorus goes ‘we’re in this together’ and we think it’s a positive message to share right now,” Kelsey said.

Singing for a Mate in the Shadow of Merlins and Three Bird Songs are available here.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Plan in place for B.C. Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

Vancouver Island’s current COVID-19 case count officially hits zero

Of the 130 recorded Island Health cases, five people have died, 125 recovered

RDN will look at collecting old bins once automated waste collection starts in the fall

Residents outside Nanaimo city limits to see new waste pickup model in October

Lithium-ion battery fire damages suite in Nanaimo

One man displaced from home after battery for radio-controlled toy bursts into flame while charging

Nanaimo pianist and future doctor honoured for ‘excellence in culture’

Devon Joiner is among this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners

MAP: Dr. Henry reveals which B.C. regions have seen most COVID-19 cases

B.C. health officials release a first look at how the novel coronavirus has reached all corners of the province

Beefs & Bouquets, June 3

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail editor@nanaimobulletin.com

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in ways that would have… Continue reading

Alert Bay resident carves tribute to his community kicking COVID-19’s butt

‘Our little village crushed the curve with love and commitment’

End of an Era: Tofino hair studio closes shop

“We were getting excited to start ramping up and then all of sudden we had to close our doors.”

Kelowna Mountie on desk duty following ‘aggressive’ arrest

The officer involved in an arrest that took place on May 30 in Kelowna has been placed on administrative duties

Protests shift to memorializing George Floyd amid push for change

‘There is something better on the other side of this,’ says Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottom

Most Read