Having a career in music was not what Bif Naked originally intended when she decided to join her friend’s band.
“I just accidentally started singing for my friend’s band because their singer quit,” she said. “That’s kind of how it started.”
At the time, Naked, born Beth Torbert, was a theatre student at the University of Winnipeg.
“I had no interest in music. None. Zero,” Naked said.
But things with her friend’s band picked up and what started out as something to do became so much more.
“I dropped out of university because we got offered a tour and I am still waiting to go back [to university],” she said.
Since then, Naked has gone on to perform alongside the likes of Snoop Dogg, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow and many others.
On Friday (July 24) Bif Naked will be performing with Bend Sinister, The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer, Platinum Blonde and others at Diana Krall Plaza as part of the Bathtub Weekend Launch Party.
“We have been playing in Nanaimo since my first record,” she said. “We usually have so much fun going around the town.”
Naked was born in India and adopted by American missionaries. She briefly lived in Kentucky before being raised in Manitoba.
After playing in her friend’s band, Naked bounced around in a couple other bands before embarking on a solo career.
“I never wanted to be a singer. I was in ballet for almost 15 years and I really thought I would be a performer as far as dancing and acting,” Naked said.
Early on in her career, it was the little things that kept her motivated.
“Any starving artist will tell you it is the little milestones that you have that look forward to and you keep going,” Naked said.
After releasing her first record in 1995, Naked released I Bificus in 1998. The album, which certified platinum, contained her hit single, Spaceman.
Naked says part of her success came down to the quality of her songs and timing.
“I think it always comes down to the songs. I think that it was the right timing for a girl,” she said. “It was a different era in music. Songs like Spaceman were a little unconventional lyrically.”
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By 2008, Naked had two gold-certified albums, was performing roughly 250 shows a year and was recently married, when everything changed.
“I got breast cancer,” Naked said. “That was daunting for sure and a setback for sure. I really didn’t think I would able to work again, let alone want to work again.”
While undergoing cancer treatment, Naked saw her marriage come to an end.
“To go through that type of thing on top of being sick and going through treatment was a tremendous thing to overcome,” Naked said.
During treatment in 2009, Naked released her album, The Promise.
“Just because you have cancer you still have to work,” Naked said.
She says going through treatment was an “incredible journey” and that meeting other cancer patients motivated her to keep going.
“You meet other patients who you can relate to,” she said. “It becomes very bonding. The relationships that you make during that time are incredible and they are lifelong.”
Today, Naked has become a motivational speaker for the National Speakers Bureau and she is working toward a new record. Naked has also completed an autobiography, which will come out in 2016.
“We were in edit for three years,” Naked said. “The problem is I have a big mouth and I don’t understand word count.”
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