La Ronge’s Dara Schindelka is coming close to releasing her debut album Thou Art Loosed next month—The commonality within the songs, she says, is following your own path because that’s exactly what she and the people around her have done.
Schindelka, 43, has lived all over Saskatchewan. She grew up near Raymore before graduating high school and university in Regina, and then moved to Pelican Narrows, to Southend, Big River, Hudson Bay, Buffalo Narrows and now La Ronge.
“I’ve always wanted to travel and do music, so it’s kind of like ‘Why wait?” she questioned.
“So I’m going to do it.”
The folk and roots singer/songwriter said ‘Thou Art Loosed’ means ‘you are free.’ The album consists of a song with the same name, as well as ‘Wasted Time,’ ‘Ancient Whisper’ and ‘Love Lives Here.’
“You’re free to live your life; you’re free to make your choices; you’re free to follow your own path and follow your heart. Sometimes it’s hard. It’s really hard,” said Schindelka.
“These songs sort of speak to rising above your circumstances, having courage and finding your way in that, embracing those challenges. I think this is like a celebration of those things.”
‘Thou Art Loosed,’ in particular, is about women supporting one another.
Schindelka said she has a choir made up of women from the Lac La Ronge Indian Band, Air Ronge and La Ronge, each coming from unique backgrounds. But, she said, the song shows that people can lift each other up regardless of their differences.
The song was released for International Women’s Day and was featured by SaskMusic. It won best folk/acoustic song in March by the American Tracks Music Awards, and has been selected for inclusion in the Love Wins Festival in New York set for spring 2021.
“(The album is) just four songs, but if you listen to the message in it, we’re not criticizing or putting down anybody. We’re just lifting one another up, and there’s a power in unifying one another.”
Schindelka decided to take a break from the stage at 19 years old. She continued to lead music in church and summer camps, but music didn’t strike her as something to pursue.
In the summer of 2019, she decided to take on the challenge by writing and recording the songs in the album.
“I had no following, no social media presence, not a thing other than the excitement and passion to make it happen. The songs just flowed out of me and I have felt overwhelming support by the people that have been coming to my concerts and listening to my music,” she said.
Schindelka described her emotions leading up to the album’s release.
“There’s a real excitement. It’s a project, and so the more people that are in on the project, the more exciting it is to see it all come together,” she said.
“I’m at the part now where the final pieces of the puzzle, they’re coming together.”
Thou Art Loosed is releasing May 8.
While Schindelka wrote and sang the songs on her own, the album came together with the help of Riley Burr of Pine Trail Studios in Air Ronge, Em Records in Calgary and Emre Cords and Ben Rose. The EP was finalized by Ron Skinner of Heading North Mastering in Toronto.
Schindelka is also participating in an online concert called Songs of Support, which was put together by Shayne Lazarowich. The concert benefits Saskatchewan Food Banks and takes place on May 2 and 3.