Kamalla Rose Kaur
I sang at a memorial service recently and was very happy to see Linda Allen there. Grace, our mutual friend, died of cancer. Grace lived in a state of profound gratitude, maintaining an extremely high quality of life, moment to moment, throughout a long sickness. Linda Allen was Grace’s “Artist’s Way” teacher; mine as well.
After people shared stories about Grace and my singing was done, I found Linda Allen in the back of the room, by the kitchen, talking with a handsome elderly woman. They welcomed me into their circle, praising my performance.
“You are both singers!” the elder woman exclaimed.
“Yes, thank you so much.” I replied, warmed by her sincerity but then I added, “But, you know, actually, Linda Allen is on a whole different level than I am.”
Of course, Linda disagreed with me and tried to interrupt me, but I had the floor. What I said was, “Linda Allen was Washington State’s Official Centennial Singer Songwriter. She has 7 CDs.”
This seemed a bit lame but it was a start.
I considered sharing about how Linda has been studying in the Bay Area with another one of my heroes, the feminist theologian, Matthew Fox, and how she has a Doctorate in Creation Spirituality.
In hindsight, I probably should have simply sung that elder woman one of my favorite Linda Allen songs from her latest CD, Where I Stand, and let Linda herself describe how I feel about both Linda Allen, and also about Grace.
“Some kinds of heroes in this world
take the long road walking
day by day,
for a better way.
Some kinds of heroes in this world
leave this earth to fly up in the sky
like (a) butterfly.”
from Heroes, on the Where I Stand CD by Linda Allen.
I dropped in on Linda Allen’s 60th Birthday celebration and CD release concert at the historic Roeder Home in Bellingham recently. Linda looked wonderful. She remains pretty at all times, and beautiful sometimes. And truly, Linda is as nice as she seems. The historic venue was simply packed with her friends and fans celebrating her. I remembered, watching her that night, once coming across an old promotional photo of Linda’s while helping out at “October Rose Productions” ( Linda’s company, housed in the little office behind her home). Linda was absolutely beautiful the day that picture was taken and innocent, in her early twenties. Fate and destiny are so mysterious. In my dreams of a better world, Linda Allen would have become as famous as Joan Baez or Pete Seeger; at the very least, a mega-successful songwriter by now. As a singer, I am eager to cover Linda’s songs. Linda writes important songs and witty song that speak of things that I feel need to be said, and you find yourself humming her choruses while doing your daily chores.
One year I went to see Linda Allen perform at the Folk Life Festival in Seattle. I was so impressed! Linda had attracted the most musically talented audience I had ever witnessed. They politely let Linda sing the verses to her songs, but during the choruses, the whole auditorium sang along, in full voice, with beautiful harmonies.
Linda writes songs about politics and taking a stand. Linda writes songs about people whose stories might have been otherwise forgotten. She write songs about being a wife and being a Mom. She has even written a song on her new CD, about the junk in a elder woman’s purse.
Grace took Linda Allen’s “Artist Way” class three times; she loved that class and Linda so much.
“Linda Allen is my mentor and teacher, my sister, and my friend, and even my Auntie and Mom, at times, when I need one.” I told the wise woman at Grace’s memorial, and then I sincerely recommended that she listen to Linda’s CDs, and consider taking Linda’s “Artist’s Way” class as well. “Go see her speak! Go hear her sing! Linda Allen is a Pacific Northwest treasure, an inspiration – pure and simple.”