admin On January - 28 - 2014

So today is the day in Canada that a massive corporation in Canada, who shall go unnamed, has pledged to give a $0.05 donation to a mental health organization for every hashtag #lets talk that appears in social media. I used the hashtag myself, as anything that takes money from one of the most morally bankrupt corporations in the country and into the hands of someone who needs it, is a-okay with me.

But the fact that we still have to single out a day where it’s ‘okay’ to talk about these issues–especially in this day and age–is a great source of consternation for me (and let’s face it, it’s not as though ‘the corporation who shall not be named is doing any additional work any other time of the year to raise the on-going level of discourse on the issue). It’s one of the reasons I wanted to share this piece Amanda Putz (an old friend of a friend from Regina–we Reginans do get around!) produced on mental illness and musicians on Radio One in December. Unfortunately the full audio is no longer available, but you can hear an interview with James Rhodes, a classical pianist to whom I was introduced through the broadcast.

James_rhodes_pianist_1220104336250_16x9_620x350I then did a quick search on Rhodes and have become imminently impressed by his candour regarding his own battles with mental illness. There are far too few artists willing to be open about their own battles, and I think that within creative communities it’s a dialogue that needs to be opened up. The fact is that the links between creativity and mental illness do exist, though to what precise extent is unknown , and it’s a chicken or an egg scenario in terms of whether the arts tend to attract such personalities, or vice versa. Yet for some reason, even when the signs of mental distress are literally or figuratively all over the product of one’s creativity (be it visual, literal, or audial), those even within the creative community seem to almost consider it a given, or write it off as eccentricity that’s part and parcel of existing within that milieu–and I think that’s a dangerous habit for us to engage in. Rhodes’s own bio on his page is an excellent example of why that is. Have a read of it . And while you’re there, check out his work.

Because that was the other reason I was thrilled to hear Amanda’s piece. I was no stranger to the other guests on the program, but Rhodes was new to me. He is an exceptional performer and I am quite honestly blown away by what I’ve heard so far. You can hear samples on soundcloud, but I do intend on buying a full album soon. The Chopin Prelude No. 4 had me in tears.

I do hope he’ll consider coming to Canada (i.e. Montreal) at some point. Hell, I’d even consider making the trip to NYC to see him.