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Kathleen Edwards to Step Back from Music (After Tonight)

By Jared Davidson on June 22, 2014

After fifteen years of music, Kathleen Edwards has decided she’s done, at least for now. Tonight’s Jazz Festival performance is the artist’s final planned show. Whether or not this means she’s quitting music permanently is not clear, but Edwards is clear that she is stepping back from music for a sizeable portion of time.

Since February, rumors have been swirling of Edwards’ imminent departure from music. It began with a post she made on her Facebook page in which she stated, “I’m really sorry but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to make music anymore.” The post was immediately picked up by The Huffington Post, American Songwriter and Exclaim, but it wasn’t clear if this meant she would be quitting.

However, in an interview with Apt613, Edwards has stated definitively that she is stepping back from the musical world for an extended period of time, if not permanently.

“I feel like I’m in the process of taking a pretty substantial break from music,” said Edwards. “Partly because I don’t feel like I can do it for a while. I feel like my spine is eroded and I have to build it back up.”

Over the last few years, Edwards has experienced plenty that has made her feel the time was right for a break. Her last album, Voyageur, chronicles what was a very difficult time in her life. Though she reflects on her career with gratitude, she feels the need to distance herself from that life.

“It was so fun and it’s been so amazing, but it’s also exhausting in a way that led me to severe depression, and severely questioning if I’d made some mistakes in pursuing this,” Edwards said. “Being a musician doesn’t really allow you to have a routine and a home life, and I miss that.”

Now she’s returning home to Ottawa, and she plans to stay. She is opening a café in Stittsville that she plans to call “Quitters,” a witty and fitting name. For Edwards, this has been a long-time dream. Her first job was as a barista, and she has always had a strong connection to café culture.

“Wherever I was, whatever city in the world, my first destination was to find that nice neighbourhood spot for good coffee and that homey feel,” she said. She plans to take inspiration from those visits to create a neighbourhood coffee shop that evokes that essential home-ness. It’s hard to imagine a bigger change from a life on the road.

“My parents probably think I’m making a crazy mistake opening a coffee shop,” said Edwards. “And that’s okay, because most people thought I was crazy when I wanted to make music.”

Of course, the café will feature live music. In fact, Edwards even hinted that she might be tempted to play herself, though she did not confirm that she would. We’ll have more details on Quitters when it opens in September.

Until then, the only glimpse of Kathleen Edwards her fans will get is tonight’s show at the Jazz Festival, for which tickets are still available. Edwards has turned down every other booking this year, so tonight is truly the one chance her fans will have to see her for quite some time. The Jazz Festival appealed to her, she said, partly because it was local.

“It felt like a neighbourhood show, and I love that,” she said adding, “And when I heard Steve Martin was the headliner that night, it was a no-brainer. Because, obviously, I think he’s the coolest.”

Edwards’ show tonight will feature the outstanding Donovan Woods and Jon Hynes. An atypical lineup for a Kathleen Edwards show, it promises to make for a unique evening, and a suitable farewell to her local fans.

“I want to do a ‘Sunday evening show’ where the songs are really raw and the harmonies are strong,” Edwards said.

And if local fans are a little saddened by her departure, perhaps Quitters’ coffee will perk them up this fall. One thing is clear, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Kathleen Edwards.