The power of vulnerability

Rising Appalachia is an American band formed by sisters Leah and Chloe. They pour their hearts into their music, which is inspired by traditional folk songs from around the globe, as well as into activism. Leah answered some questions for us…

We are so happy we got to talk to Leah from Rising Appalachia at the Xperience festival in Bad Meinberg. It was a sweet encounter and we learned a lot talking about empowerment, sisterhood and daily routines…

What does Empowerment mean to you?

I have been thinking about this question a lot lately. Especially since the energy has shifted and become so poisoned in our home country, the United States. There is a tendency to critize each other and for me this is the opposite of empowerment. Empowerment has something to do with making space for each other to make mistakes. And being vulnerable and able to appologize. For me this is also about learning that the things you create and put out into the world don’t have to be perfect. And it is about being yourself. We are all navigating how to grow and learn and change.

I am resilient, I trust the movement. I negate the chaos, uplift the negative. I’ll show up at the table. Again and again and again. I’ll close my mouth and learn to listen. – Resilient, Rising Appalachia

How do you deal with your perfectionism and your inner critics?

Well, we are actually far away from being perfect. And we never try to be. We record albums and keep mistakes in them. That keeps it human. I have a lot of personal drive to excel. I want to always be growing and for me it is about being gentle with myself in this growth. And also to be gentle with the people around me. We can learn a lot about this in the mindfulness practice has to do with accepting where you are at the present moment.

Do you have a regular practice?

I have a lot of regular practices. Many of them developed while living in India for eight months at a Yoga Shala with an incredible teacher in Dharamsala and Goa. I came out with a really strong practice: I did two hours of Yoga a day and meditated passionately. Now while being on tour the time has diminished to a maximum of 45 minutes. But I try to keep up some routine every day. Even if I just sit for some minutes and watch my breathing or stretch for a minute. Some focused time helps me to center myself, it gives me strength and keeps me focused.

Do you think that some kind of spiritual practice is essential for empowerment?

I have grown out of the belief that anything is essential for anything. I think that everybody has their own rules and their own ways. While living in New Orleans I really came to experience that some of the most profound teachers were the bar tenders. Or the postmen. Or the mom with five kids that seems to have this fine balance of energy and this inspiring way of dealing with chaos. Some of the seemingly most simple people have an amazing life philosophy. Which might not be delivered to them through inner practices which have a certain title. And I mean, in the end it is truly about how gentle and loving you really can be in day to day life with yourself and others.

Was there an example which really touched you?

So many. New Orleans is literally a city of postman shamans for me. There was not a lot of spiritual practice in the sense of Yoga and healthfood. But there was music everywhere, parades and musicians standing on the street playing for seven hours. That is a very severe practice in a common form. I got amazed by that on a daily basis.

In a couple of your songs you are talking about ‚Women at the center‘. What does that mean for you?

Well, we just visited Ireland where there are so many reminders of the old Pagan Ways, where women were leaders of the family and in politics. In many eras of our human existence this was just a natural part of society. Women had power and choice and position – I think that currently feels like the thing we are fighting for. We have lived in a patriarchal society for so long. And there is really a need for us women to fight back that power. By which I do not mean fighting in harmful way or fighting against male powers. We need both energies for a balanced life and society. It is more like a subtle game of switching around energies, bringing back our female inspired philosophy, our ideas and our art on the stage. And reclaiming leadership positions. Rising Appalachia wants to set an example for this, because most women in the music industries are backing singers. But we founded and manage our own band which is rare in the music bizz and hopefully inspires other female artists as well. It is already happening and we should really support each other in this movement!

Thank you Leah for this beautiful interview. And for taking the time to sing Rising Appalachias amazing song ‚Lean in‘ with us:

Titelbild © Chad Hess, Fotos vom Festival © Zero Gravity Pics

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