Canadian musician Zoe Boekbinder has added a stop to her current tour. She will be visiting the Fredericktown branch of the Ozark Regional Library at 6 p.m., Aug. 13.
With only three stops planned for the state of Missouri, Boekbinder is sure to offer a unique experience for the community.
When describing her music, Boekbinder said she does not fit into a single genre because she listens to so many kinds of music.
"Lately I've been calling myself a folksinger because folk art can be so many things," Boekbinder said. "I like how undefined that definition is. I draw from blues, country, 60's rock, doo wop, gospel, bluegrass and even opera."
Boekbinder is originally from Ontario, Canada and then later moved to Sierra foothills in California. She said her and her family then moved to British Columbia, then back to California before landing back in Ontario. Her home address may have changed over the years, but her love of music stayed constant.
"I am from a lot of places and nowhere," Boekbinder said. "I've always loved music. I remember, as a teenager, I could just listen to my favorite albums and do nothing else for hours and hours. I don't have the attention for that anymore. Now I write music and play music for hours and hours."
Boekbinder said she began writing songs in high school and first performed her own songs at the age of 21 with her sister.
"I spent eight years being on the road half the time," Boekbinder said. "That was a bit much because I'm really a home body."
Boekbinder said being on the road is not her favorite part of performing as she loves being at home with her dog. She said she does it because she loves performing her music.
"I love playing small towns because I know not many performers do," Boekbinder said. "I can often feel the appreciation in a different way. Also, the crowd tends to be more diverse in age, which I love."
Boekbinder said she performs solo but with a loop pedal allowing her to make live recordings of her voice.
"I layer myself and create the effect of a choir," Boekbinder said. "The show is quiet and intimate. I tell stories about my songs and it can get very personal and emotional when the conditions are right."
Boekbinder said her favorite favorite song to perform is almost always her newest song because it is fresh and exciting but also challenging.
"I love the way music amplifies the emotional experience," Boekbinder said. "I love that it can deliver messages that can't be received in other forms. It's a really powerful form of art, in this way. It can be emotionally cathartic and it can be a tool in a revolution."
Boekbinder said she has been tackling big issues in her music the past few years.
"Sometimes I jokingly refer to my music genre as 'self help,'" Boekbinder said. "It's not entirely a joke, though. I hope my music can help folks make healthy decisions, love themselves and care tenderly for their communities."
Boekbinder takes her kind heart and love of music a step further and in a direction that most may not consider with her Prison Music Project.
"I volunteered in a maximum security men's prison in California for almost five years," Boekbinder said. "It changed my life. Seeing that level of suffering and dehumanization really puts things into perspective."
Boekbinder said some people need to be kept separate for everyone's safety, but that so many people in prison are non-violent and suffering from mental illness.
"We don't know what to do with them so they end up in prison, which is a place meant for punishment, not for care," Boekbinder said. "I wish we were more focused on safety and less on punishment. The reason I started the project, which is an album of songs written by men I worked with inside, is because I knew their words could help illustrate the situation."
Boekbinder said the songs written by the incarcerated men talked about why they are there, what their lives were like before, the prejudices that impacted them and the flaws in the system they are in.
"There are also love songs on the album because those help to humanize these people that are thought of as bad or as trash," Boekbinder said. "They are human like the rest of us. They love and they feel pain like the rest of us. I want to amplify their stories, and I hope that can help inspire people to fix what is broken in the justice system."
Boekbinder said she has such a big heart that at times it is hard to make room for everything in her life she cares deeply about.
"Actively working to right injustice is very important to me," Boekbinder said. "I could not live with myself if I wasn't doing that work. I wish I could do more."
Boekbinder will be playing three shows during her visit to Missouri. In addition to her stop in Fredericktown she will be playing in St. Louis and a town smaller than Fredericktown.
Be sure to catch her performance at 6 p.m., Aug. 13 at the Fredericktown branch of the Ozark Regional Library.