Events

THE WATER RATS

Wed 1st June 8:15pm
Book Tickets
£ 15.00

SUZIE UNGERLEIDER officially opens a new chapter of her already distinguished and highly successful career with the release of her new album entitled My Name is Suzie Ungerleider. Bursting with her trademark evocative melodies and trenchant lyrics, it’s the tenth solo studio album by the American-born, Canadian-raised artist revered for such landmark records as Johnstown, Sleepy Little Sailor and A Girl In Teen City. It’s also her first since the artist formerly known as Oh Susanna announced that she would now record and perform under her birth name.

At this new junction on the road she has travelled, Suzie chooses a path uniquely her own by saying “so long” to her longtime moniker Oh Susanna. Making a decision that is at once personal and political, Suzie came to the realisation that she no longer wanted to be known by a stage name with historic associations to Minstrelsy, a tradition both demeaning and dehumanising to black people. The song ‘Oh Susanna’ was published by Stephen Foster in 1848 in “plantation dialect” that the songwriter later corrected. But its original sentiments are so deeply offensive that Ungerleider knew it was time to shed the association. “Twenty-six years ago, when I decided to use the name Oh Susanna, I never intended to conjure this horrifyingly racist imagery and belief system – this is not what I believe in or stand for,” she says. “I no longer wish to use a name that is associated with a system of white supremacy that has served to uphold and encourage violence, destruction and hatred upon the lives of black people in America and around the globe.”

Ungerleider’s decision was fuelled by the desire to reflect her true self as both an artist and a person, and to create a genre of her own that represented her personal vision and identity. It announces an open-hearted arrival at her real self, just as she had experienced a physical homecoming. Writing her home town of Vancouver an album-length love letter on 2017’s A Girl In Teen City had made Suzie realise how much she had missed it through all her travels and trials, and how she had to get back there. The name change is a declaration as admirably honest as her songs themselves. What’s more, it’s accompanied by a collection of new compositions that, appropriately, refresh and redefine who Suzie Ungerleider is. “Believe me,” she says, “I have loved being Oh Susanna. She is exciting, dark, funny, charming, but I am now recognizing that was actually me all along, that it was Suzie Ungerleider who was all those magical things, I just didn’t let myself see it that way.”