A strong advocate for living healthy – mentally and physically - dug deep with a new single that delves into the issue of mental health.
Okotoks singer/songwriter Tanya Ryan released her new single My Heart Song on Jan. 20 – a folk sounding tune that subtly addresses mental health. In addition to being a musician, Ryan is also a published columnist, blogger, yoga instructor and advocate for the Rowan House Society, which provides crisis intervention, long-term support and education to those affected by family violence. She’s raised more than $30,000 for the cause.
“I’m not sure that everyone will listen to it and distinguish that it’s about mental health,” said Ryan. “It’s just basically me voicing my experience with mental health in a period when I wasn’t doing so well – what it felt like and me articulating the experience that I had when I was going through challenges with my own mental health like depression and anxiety, that kind of thing.”
Ryan said the intention behind My Heart Song was to tap into an issue that many of her listeners can relate to.
“I want to be a bit more transparent and a bit more vulnerable,” she said. “I feel like anyone in the coming generations can feel like they can be honest in how they’re feeling and what their experiences are. We have a lot of previous generations that have hidden things because of feeling shame.”
A video of the single can be viewed on Ryan’s Facebook account (facebook.com/tanyaryanxo).
It was shot on a rural property outside of Okotoks last fall and showcases different types of people going through various challenges and overcoming them.
“The goal behind the imagery is to basically feel inclusive to everybody, that everybody goes through periods of time when they don’t feel great and everybody has the capacity to overcome any challenges,” she said.
Today’s album and video release will be followed by a six-track album, which Ryan said will release on Feb. 20.
The singer said she’s been working on the songs the past two years, most of which she completed on her own.
“That was my goal – trying to write things for myself to find out who I really am and what I want to say and what’s important to me and not have influence by anything else but stand in my own shoes and feel my own feelings,” she said.
While Ryan didn’t initially intend it, she said the theme that’s come out of the album is love.
“There’s a couple of love songs on there, but there is also self love on there, sex on there, other love on there,” she said. “It’s got all these different facets and faces of love. I got married a year ago so love has been high on the radar these days.”
Through the album, Ryan said she aims to create an environment of connection.
“My hope is that these songs resonate with people in such a way that they feel more connected to their parents or partner or sibling or friend or themselves,” she said. “That’s what I feel makes life fulfilling, our interdependent relationships and human connection. We all experience it at some point, in varying amounts.”
Ryan has been writing and performing professionally since 2012, and is a popular presence on the Calgary Stampede’s Nashville North and Coca-Cola stages. Last year she performed at the Big Valley Jamboree in Camrose.
On March 28, Ryan will host a singer/songwriter fundraising event at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre in Okotoks, with the proceeds going to the Rowan House Society.
As for what else the future holds, Ryan is awaiting the arrival of her first baby, expected in April.