FERRON, (nee Debby Foisy) was born on this date. A Canadian folk singer/songwriter and poet. In addition to being one of Canada’s most famous folk musicians, she is one of the most influential writers and performers of women’s music, and an important influence on later musicians such as Ani DiFranco, Mary Gauthier and the Indigo Girls.
Of her earliest musical memories, she wrote, “my mother’s French Canadian family played music. I heard guitars and banjo and accordion and scrub board and my grandfather clogging. I put it together…music meant fun, meant love and laughter. I started writing songs when I was ten, never saved them after some kids at school found them and teased me about it. I wrote songs and remembered them and when I forgot them I felt they were not important anymore. The next time I saved a song I was eighteen. It was 1970.” It was with that first saved song that she made her professional debut in 1975, playing the song “Who Loses” at a benefit for the Women’s Press Gang, a feminist publishing house.
In 1971, Foisy changed her name to Ferron when one of her friends had a dream in which she was called Ferron.
She has recorded fifteen albums and established her own record label, Lucy Records. She released her debut album, Ferron in 1977. The album was recorded in a video studio on two-track equipment, and, as she stated, “the production quality was pretty poor”. Nonetheless, all one thousand copies printed sold quickly.
1980’s Testimony was her first professionally produced album, and brought her much interest in the United States, particularly in the women’s music community. Her 1984 album Shadows on a Dime received a rating of four stars (out of five) from Rolling Stone magazine, which called Ferron “a culture hero” and the album “cowgirl meets Yeats…a thing of beauty.”
Ferron teaches master classes in writing and has opened an artist retreat for women in Three Rivers, Michigan, called “The Fen Peace and Poetry Camp for Women.” For Ferron, “artistic expression is not only essential, it’s revolutionary.” “Art is really the expression of the soul,” Ferron says. “I’m asking women to remember that if we remember our soul, we keep our soul, and we can do it through artistic connections. Art is connected to the soul, and the soul is connected to God, and God is connected to humility, so if you want to take control of a person’s soul, don’t let them have art. To me it’s a revolutionary act to continue keeping your artist soul alive”