Music unscrews the cranium, peers inside, pokes and prods, finding all the nooks and crannies contained within: excitement, fear, disappointment, nostalgia and, as singer-songwriter Erin McKeown (pictured) says, empathy.
“The very act of singing opens up a part of our brain that can’t be reached any other way,” McKeown tells EW, “and it’s the part that contains our deepest empathy and our memory.”
Alongside an esteemed musical career, McKeown is known as a champion of social causes, including, but not limited to, work on immigration issues with Revolutions Per Minute (RPM), a nonprofit supporting artists’ activism and philanthropy.
“Want to remember something?” McKeown poses. “Sing it! Want to reach someone? Ask them to sing with you. Activists are very clever, so it’s no surprise that we reach for the most versatile tool in our organizing toolboxes.”
Joining McKeown this time through Eugene is Natalia Zukerman, daughter of classical musicians Pinchas and Eugenia Zukerman. Zukerman’s educational background is in the visual arts.
“I had a painting teacher in college that said, ‘If you know what you want to say, you’ll figure out the way to say it,’” Zukerman says. “He meant that the story would dictate the image, the medium, et cetera.”
“I think about that a lot when I’m writing songs,” Zukerman continues. “If I have a story I want to tell, I will figure out whether it’s a bossanova tune, a folk ditty, a jazz song — the song actually starts to tell you what it wants to be.”
Zukerman and McKeown are old friends, and their current co-billed tour is an extension of that friendship.
“Erin and I have been friends for years, and I’m a huge fan of her music,” Zukerman says.
“We’re always scheming for ways to hang out together,” McKeown adds. “I adore her music and she has some of the best ears of anyone I know, so what could be better than a co-billed tour?”
Join friends and music-makers Erin McKeown and Natalia Zukerman at 8:30 pm Thursday, Nov. 5, at Cozmic; $15 adv., $18 door. All ages.