In a Festival that just keeps getting bigger and better each year, it must be a tremendous task for WOMADelaide organisers to constantly search for acts with enough appeal and ‘worldliness’ to appeal to the masses. Fortunately, they always seem to get it right!
Cue WOMAD 2017, and the line-up includes notables such as A.B Original, Archie Roach, The Waifs, The Specials, and Emmy Award winning sensation Toni Childs who we spoke to recently about her foray into Adelaide next week.
Right off the bat, Toni Childs’ charm radiates through the phone as if talking to an old friend. She exudes an earthy warmth and positive energy that makes her a delight to speak with.
Now a resident of Byron Bay, Childs loves the Aussie way of life and her marriage to her Australian husband Mik Lavage, a Sound designer, composer and filmmaker. I can’t help but suggest that Childs is living the hippy life, to which she responds “I call myself an ‘E-py’ (laughs), it sounds kind of strange but I’m an evolutionist and I care about the planet. I’m a humanist, evolutionist and a futurist, so from that I’m really turned on by what people are creating to improve the planet I feel like I’m being pressed from the inside out to evolve, and looking for commonalities with others so we can inspire each other.”
Ok, fair enough, getting off music slightly but where are we going wrong as humans to warrant destroying our environment, and why can’t we live peaceably?
“I think it’s our religion. Our ancestors leaned towards it to survive, wanting to believe something benevolent will take care of you. But those beliefs have become prisons, distortions and it has separated us. It’s tribal, controlling and makes us suspicious of each other. We need to evolve to a state of understanding where we either want peace, or do we want to be part of the destruction of humanity based on distorted ideas?”
But surely holding beliefs in a higher being can be a positive for humans? Is it the belief, or the believer that has the problem?
“It’s that ancestral baggage, we need to reach out beyond these beliefs to test them. Religion is rather polarized right now. Trusting one another seems to be such a big leap.”
It is clear that there is more to Childs than an amazing voice and creative talent, as the conversation I had planned on according to my research notes & questions veers well off into the holistic sphere. In a short space of time, we’ve gone from your typical journalist/artist interview format, to a meeting of minds that puts on the same wavelength. Toni Childs is an amazing human, and has a depth & self-awareness that I find fascinating.
“Everyone on the planet has access to internal wisdom, but we’ve become consumers and have become used to looking out, and being entertained so much that we’re missing this other piece that’s really big which is our connection to self. By SELF, I mean Soul Evolved Life Force.” Perhaps people are now starting to see through the bullshit? “Oh yes, absolutely!”
It is clear that the Toni Childs who rose to fame with ‘Stop Your Fussin’ almost 30 years ago is a different person these days. Well clear of the industry baggage that often jades people, Childs embraces her almost 60-year-old self in its current fashion. “I’m really evolving and growing on so many dimensions that it is pouring out through my art. I’ve done concerts for whales & dolphins, exhibitions, 3-D mapping, and things that are planet friendly including ‘save the reef’ initiatives. I’ve been kind of ‘growing activists. My focus at the moment though is on bees, they’re in danger. 41% of the bee population in the US collapsed last year due to chemicals. Without them we don’t exist. This is a big deal!” You can’t fear monger but rather inspire people to act. We help them to become pollinators. That’s what my new show/album It’s All a Beautiful Noise is all about.”
Childs speaks passionately about this with a childlike wonder, yet does not impose it forcefully nor judge those who don’t share her passion. It’s easy to buy into what she’s doing because it is a harsh reality that we are poor stewards of our environment and resources. Having never played WOMADelaide previously, I explain how amazing and multi-faceted it is. Childs can hardly wait, and asks a few questions about the Festival. Not wanting to get her hopes too high (unlikely), I tell her she’ll just have to wait and see when she arrives! It’s gonna be a big one!
Toni Childs will be at the Speakers Corner on Friday at p.m., and will perform her only WOMADelaide show on Saturday at p.m.