By Tara Bursey
Our IWD artist profiles continue with this moving interview with Toronto-based singer/songwriter Piper Hayes. Learn about how Piper came to be a musician, and how music for her is an important agent for personal change, self-empowerment and transcendence.
Come see Piper perform at this Saturday’s International Women’s Day Sing-A-Long at Worker’s Arts and Heritage Centre.
Young women are rarely encouraged to pick up a guitar. How did you first start playing one? Who were the earliest women singers/songwriters to inspire you?
I started playing guitar when I was 12 and 13. It was one of the instruments offered up for us to learn at my alternative middle school in downtown Toronto. I remember learning the basic chords and tons of songs from my parent’s generation. The first song I learned in fact was “Leaving On a Jet Plane.” Once high school hit, I didn’t pick up the guitar again really until I was 23.
I had taken violin as a kid and studied music theory on and off throughout my life and always sang, so my understanding of music was more solid than I realized. When I brought my guitar down to Manhattan, I was completing my last semester of a two-year musical theatre program. I had trouble learning other people’s songs as I only remembered how to play a few chords, so I took it upon myself to write my own. I still had no intention of being a singer-songwriter much less a musician at that point. I had no idea that I might actually be good. For me, at the time, it was therapy.