When Kate Reid shouts “all aboard,” she’s not kidding. Opening with the blast of a train whistle and an infectious hootenanny vibe, Reid’s fourth album, and her first for families, children and youth, carries her passion for inclusivity coast-to-coast on an express route to generation next. Queer Across Canada’s collection of groundbreaking tracks traverse a wide landscape of family scenarios as it sensitively addresses (with rootsy rock’n’roll verve) such contemporary realities as surrogate moms, donor dads, same-sex parents, out-of-the-closet fathers, blended families and queer-curious siblings.
Known for her folk-roots and country stylings, the singer and her hard-strummed acoustic guitar also venture into ska, rock, jazz on Queer Across Canada, and even a taste of hip-hop with thanks to a guest turn from Vancouver beat poet, C.R. Avery. Backed by a choir of young voices and an ace band, Reid delivers one lively storytelling narrative after the next right through a celebratory finale of Sister Sledge’s disco-era anthem, “We Are Family.” Her mission: to serve up fun, tuneful, unfailingly positive affirmations that will help create a “new normal” for children in trailblazing LGBTQ families. In the process, she hopes to dispel the confusion, misunderstanding and pain these youngsters can experience as a result of peer and societal pressure and bullying.
Queer Across Canada’s genesis dates back to a series of conversations during the weekend of Reid’s appearance at the 2009 Vancouver Folk Music Festival (which also birthed her live favorite “My Baby’s In the Beer Tent Again”), including discussions with her partner's children about the challenges they have faced in school because some of their classmates can't comprehend how someone can have two moms. “Everything I was hearing and feeling told me that it was time to write an album for children and youth who are growing up in LGBTQ households,” she recalls.
In gathering ideas and themes, Reid interviewed dozens of friends and fans, including preschoolers, teens, Gen X-ers and baby boomers. She also interviewed her partner, Maike Engelbrecht and Maike’s two children, Ben and Jessica (two of the album’s featured singers). “This album touches on so many issues faced by young people with queer parents: bullying, gender identity, stereotypes and negative beliefs included,” says Reid. Her lyrics also document the loving realities of life in queer families and celebrate the differences, challenges and joys of coming out.