“A work of hope and empowerment.”


November 20, 2013

Anne Heaton to release collaborative album, Dora, with poet Claire Clube. 

Heaton Hopes Clube’s Memory Will Carry On Through Album

The boldly vulnerable collaborative album Dora from acclaimed singer-songwriter Anne Heaton and lyric poet Claire Clube is a project born of both heartbreak and an enduring love of life.  The album, with its dark beauty, delivers healing.  Heaton and Clube are both mothers who braved divorce to reclaim the life and sense of self they gave up in their unfulfilling marriages.

With this creative union, Heaton and Clube have crafted a work of hope and empowerment.  Dora’s songs are close snapshots of relationships with people and the natural world. I will always be looking into the sea/ I stand chest deep in water/ Level with the gulls, from the song “Selkie,” shows the intimate vantage point of the album.

“I broke free for a more authentic life,” Clube said. “There is nothing glamorous here—it’s the gritty nuts and bolts of being a creative woman, raising a family, and then going through a harsh divorce. Now I’m reorganizing my life. I’m starting over.”

Claire Cube

Claire Cube

Tragically, Clube was killed in a plane crash in Africa in July 2013, while she and Heaton were in the midst of planning the details surrounding the release of Dora.  “So shocking was this news to me,” said Heaton, “that it took me some time to even believe it.  The fact that this extremely full-of-life, joyful person could leave was more than surprising.” Heaton hopes that the memory of the wonderful person she knew Clube to be will carry on and be appreciated through this album.

Clube was the author of a book of poems entitled Dora.  Heaton has built a career writing songs that comfort and confront with big truths sweetly packed in piano-based folk-pop. The Washington Post has called Heaton’s songs “tender, barbed, and spiritual,” The Boston Globe has described the Chicago-based artist’s music as “lush, introspective, and elegant” and Paste Magazine has called her work “stunning.” Heaton has toured nationally, played the Sundance Film Festival, Lilith Fair, and has been a featured artist on the New York Times Music Podcast. Heaton has also played numerous times on NPR and has had her songs featured on Starbucks in-store playlists around the world. With Dora, Heaton makes her debut as a producer.

 “In my heart of hearts, I’m a collaborator,” Heaton said.  “Sometimes I feel really connected to a particular audience, but, since I mostly write alone, it was amazing to experience that sense of connection in the creative process itself.”

Anne Heaton

Anne Heaton

The seeds of this collaboration began when Clube attended an Anne Heaton show at Club Passim in Boston. It was a time of confusion and pain for Clube, and Club Passim was a place of refuge where she could escape her troubles and discover new music. During this complex time, Clube struggled with the demise of her 25-year marriage, nurtured the poet inside her soul, and grappled with the emotional confusion of finding real love outside of her committed relationship. As the tides shifted in Clube’s life, she and Heaton struck up a friendship. From the warmth and ease of their interactions, Clube and Heaton agreed to collaborate on an album.

Dora features Clube’s visceral and heartfelt poetry, set to a blend of singer-songwriter pop, classical, and jazz/blues music. One song, “Blue Milk,” expresses the primal and unconditional bond between a mother and her child. The music has a smoky sophistication while Heaton sings with poise and poignancy Clube’s intensely emotional words: My waters break/I howl/You cry/How strange/The placenta plump like a bagpipe/My breasts fill with hot milk/With blue milk they fill. Heaton also sings the stinging chorus with stunning grace: You anoint me/You anoint me/My love is savage.

The title track, Dora, based on Clube’s poem of the same name, was loosely inspired by “Dora Markus,” a Eugenio Montale poem from the 1900s. In Clube’s poem, the character Dora embodies a complex but empowering metaphor. She is soft but seductively powerful. Her sense of self is unselfconscious, observed by a woman and desired by a man. With delicate power Heaton sings lines like: Dora do you know how he watches you/As you lie in the grass touching your breasts/Your hand inching beneath your skirt/Your eyes aligned with stars/He loves you ’cause you penetrate his loneliness.

For Heaton, writing music to someone else’s life story was liberating. “For singer-songwriters, our work is often perceived to be solely autobiographical when oftentimes, it is not,” she said. “It was refreshing to create something that would not be assumed to literally represent my own story. At the same time, it gave me more leeway to explore and break rules. I was able to let the music stretch out, not fit into a particular musical box, and include a wider range of styles. I allowed the sensuality of Claire’s words to come through. I felt like a messenger or translator. I think we’ve created something unusual with Dora.

“It’s been a giant catharsis to wipe the slate clean,” Clube said reflecting on the journey that led to the Dora album. “I’ve experienced major shifts in my life in the last few years and come out the other side.  I feel like I can do anything with my life now.”

“Some of my favorite albums, like Peter Gabriel’s US, were, in part, born of marital heartbreak,” said Heaton. “I never wanted to talk about my own divorce because it felt so personal. It was definitely the hardest thing I ever had to do, but my life finally started to move after I let my marriage go. In the community I grew up in, a marriage ending was considered incredibly taboo. I remember as a kid hearing about women who got divorced who then got very sick or were poor or who never got up off the couch for the next 10 years. I didn’t want to be this person, and I was terrified that being a divorced woman could cause this even though rationally I knew it didn’t have to. Then I met Claire, this powerful and joyful person without a trace of bitterness or regret, a fearless woman who had taken a scary step.  I said to myself: ‘Here’s someone I want to live like.’ So I took a great interest in her words. I loved the colorful way she interacted with and wrote about people and the natural world. So I had a ball turning these poems into songs.”

Dora will be released February 14, 2014.