New Zealand songstress Brooke Fraser, though only twenty-four, has already visited most of the world's continents, including neighbouring Australia, where she now lives, and parts of Asia and Africa. Though it is not her first time in North America, the dates scheduled this June and July will make up the first tour she has done here since the North American release of her sophomore album, Albertine.
New Zealanders have enjoyed Albertine since its release in December 2006, and North Americans are finally able to partake in its rich exploration of the human condition when it released here on May 27, 2008. Fraser says she will also reside in Los Angeles, California for the 5 month promotional tour she’ll be doing in North America.
Over the phone, Fraser expresses her excitement about this tour because now, she and her band “actually have something tangible with which to lead people with”, as opposed to the mini tours she held last year where North American audiences were not yet familiar with her songs. Describing the Brooke Fraser live experience as one that is “very organic”, she also says that she feels she brings in the laid back feel of her home community into her shows with a lot of talking and a few jokes along the way.
At the same time, Fraser admits she is aware that the North American music market is the hardest to crack so her ultimate goal is definitely not to take over the world. She is, however, “very passionate about the message that’s at the heart of these songs” as they are about “drawing people’s attention especially to social justice”. In essence, she states, “I suppose my ambition is really to hopefully make songs that move people and inspire change in people’s lives.”
Named after an orphan girl who Fraser met on a trip to Rwanda in 2005, Albertine is Fraser’s tribute to hearing about Joel, a Hutu man who risked his life to rescue a Tutsi girl by the name of Albertine. During the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the Tutsi and the Hutu tribes were enemies, but the story of Joel’s bravery made Fraser realize she had a “wider responsibility in hearing this story” to let it be known far and wide. Fraser also reveals she felt drawn to the plight of Rwanda by divine purpose and realized at the end of her trip that she was “in a position where I could share [a] message with other people [and as a musician] that could be a great way to contribute in and of itself”.
Fraser believes she has come a long way since her 2003 debut, What to Do with Daylight. Not only was she still a teenager then, “really learning to write [with] songs that came straight out of high school”, but it was also her first time being in the studio. She recounts, “Between the recording of the first album and the recording of Albertine, I was exposed to so much more music that I had ever been in my sheltered childhood and played with so many more amazing musicians and got to support a couple of great artists on the road [that I] really just learned from that.” So once the recording sessions for Albertine were through, Fraser “felt like I fit more into my skin as a songwriter.” And though she has been talking about Albertine for awhile now, continuously touring and playing the songs live in front of new people are what keeps the music fresh and gives her the motivation to keep singing. Fraser adds that she is quite passionate about spreading the messages on the album, which basically make up her life’s message – in conjunction with her faith in Jesus and her work with Hillsong UNITED, Hillsong Church’s youth band in Sydney, Australia, which has received international success.
When asked about her membership in Hillsong UNITED, Fraser states, “First and foremost why I’m involved with this is Jesus.” While she uses her solo music to reach people outside of the church, Fraser believes that as a disciple of Jesus she has “a responsibility to make sure I’m making use of the gifts that God has given me,” and so not only is she one of the main singers of Hillsong UNITED, but she also participates in events and conferences that are organized in its name around the world. A conference recently took place in Florida where Fraser, along with her fellow musicians and Hillsong fans, dealt with topics such as “worship, the glory of God and justice” – all of which she suspects will be similar subjects of discussion and interest at Toronto’s upcoming Hillsong UNITED conference which is being held on August 29-30 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre this summer.
With the Hillsong UNITED Conference in Toronto this August and a bunch of Canadian tour dates, this summer is sure to be a musically and spiritually fulfilling time for New Zealand’s Brooke Fraser. Be sure to catch Fraser on her headlining North American tour, which started June 2nd in Los Angeles, California, and her upcoming Canadian stops here:
June 6, Vancouver, BC – BC Media Club
July 2, Toronto, ON – El Mocambo
July 4, Montreal, QC – Metropolis
August 29-30, Toronto, ON - Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Hillsong UNITED Conference (www.uniteproductions.com for tickets).
For more information on Brooke, please visit http://www.myspace.com/brookefraser and her upcoming official website at www.brookefraser.com.
Writer: Stephanie Ng Wan