In 1995, taking my stage name from the famous Stephen Foster song seemed perfect. Oh Susanna was both a play on my own real name, Suzanne, as well as a way to hearken back to the great American folk songs that were a source of inspiration for my own music. Oh Susanna was a kind of shorthand to impress upon the listener’s mind, the time and place where I wanted them to travel – along the rusty old trainyards to the fields, mines and hills of mythical America. I promised them that, if they were willing, this journey was all possible by the power of my voice singing a lonesome song.
Taking the name Oh Susanna also made me feel that, suddenly, right before my feet, a red carpet magically unfurled, leading me to a stage lined by footlights and cloaked in a red velvet curtain. There, waiting for me, would be a lone microphone on a stand under a spotlight. All I had to do was act like Dorothy and follow the path to that wonderful place I longed to be, open my mouth and sing. You see, I had been so afraid to walk up onto that stage. I had buried my childhood dream of being a singer for over a decade, but now, I was finally inching my way along that imaginary red carpet.
I have now been back in Vancouver for a year and a half. I am still following my path but this time it is one where I am truly integrating my musical being with who I am, finally seeing that music is inside of me and not in some alter ego.