“A powerful album that pulls no punches.”
– FolkWords.com, UK
See full review here: http://www.folkwords.com/latestreviews_91712.html
Download: Ethan Collister – Short Form Bio
Download: Ethan Collister – Bio for Press and Media (published below)
Ethan Collister never expected his day job as a youth worker would lead to the title of his fifth full-length album as a singer/songwriter.
In the fall of 2010 Collister returned to his hometown of Calgary, Alberta, where he took a job at an agency servicing youth and children facing mental health, social and emotional challenges. It wasn’t a line of work he ever planned to pursue.
“I was burnt out from the nomadic lifestyle I’d been leading, touring and following my passion as a songwriter. I needed to take some time to figure out my next step,” says Collister. “A fellow musician and friend of mine connected me to a job working with at risk youth. I thought it could be interesting and it turned out to be a great fit.”
Five years later Collister is still working in the mental health field. Not only that, he says he loves it.
“Working in this field I discovered a new part of myself I hadn’t known before. I realized I’m a helper. When you’re supporting others you learn about yourself and it feels great to give back.”
For Collister, discovering a new part of himself didn’t mean giving up on his passion for music. In fact, it inspired him to push his art further.
In October 2014 he released his fifth album of original material titled Dear Bastards. A particularly resilient client that Collister worked with inspired the title track. The album celebrates some universal human challenges.
“The song Dear Bastards is about belonging,” explains Collister. “It’s about the anger and pain of not having a voice and not feeling connected to a community. I have worked with many young people who struggle to find their place in the world. The desire to belong is universal.”
Social commentary has always been an integral part of Collister’s work. Dear Bastards features a number of songs that address tough topics, but it’s not all doom and gloom.
“While I was writing this album I was coming to terms with some tough realities through my position as a mental health worker, so those themes take a dominant role. But I wanted to balance the harder hitting songs with a hopeful message. While I was writing I was falling in love with my girlfriend, so it was natural for me to reflect on love and it’s power to heal and conquer.”
Not only does Collister’s work experience inspire his music, but also his experience as a musician has helped shape his role as a mental health worker.
“Music has incredible healing power,” says Collister. “It’s a language that goes far deeper than words and I find it’s a great way to connect and build relationships with people who may otherwise be resistant.”
Collister has supported clients who are learning to play instruments, play in ensembles, and he’s even helped clients write their own songs.
“For someone who isn’t feeling heard, songwriting is a powerful intervention. To sing your own song with your own voice is validating and self-affirming.”
During the 2014 and 2015 school years, Ethan Collister worked as a Wellness Coach in a mental health and wellness outreach program in High River. The program was a flood recovery initiative and serviced students, teachers and families through the schools of High River.
“We made the mission statement of our program Create Harmony. I absolutely love that,” Collister gleams. “It summarizes my world view. I see life as music… If we all listen to each other we can make music and harmony together. That’s what I try to do each day when I get up and step out into the world. Make music with the people and things around me. When I go to work I try to share that view with others and help people tune in to a more harmonious state of being. To me there’s nothing more fulfilling than having my music and my day job compliment each other so well.”
Harmony is also the name of the game when Collister performs live. With brilliant energy and presence, Ethan Collister connects with audiences through his songs and stories. He is an entertainer. And even if his songs address some challenging topics, at the end of the day it’s about having fun.
“When people come out to see me play, I do my best to make sure they have a fun time,” says Collister. “I want people to be entertained. I want people to leave with smiles on their faces.”
Dear bastards, they do.
“Compelling and dynamic…”
–Discorder Magazine, Vancouver
“Fun and in the now… while the melody is an important vehicle, the story is the thing.”
–Vue Weekly, Edmonton
“Collister…reflects on things that fall in the bigger picture and in a larger world.”
–See Magazine, Edmonton