Local music educator Siobhan Bonny-O’Rourke, and social worker Miles Bonny have landed abroad to work with a small Polish town as well as spread their talent throughout Poland and Germany.
Bonny will be showcasing his latest EP “Let it Out,” which was released Oct. 20. O’Rourke will be performing alongside her spouse Bonny who creates jazzy hip hop as well as exhibiting her own solo work under the name Shhor, which combines elements of gospel and roots music, which she calls “ambient soul.”
Five years ago O’Rourke learned Bonny’s music as a hired singer for his show at a venue in Australia, O’Rourke’s native country, little did they know they would make this collaboration permanent after realizing they shared interests in community outreach.
“We got to talking about the fact that I did a lot of gospel stuff, so that whole, like, communal element of music and how it’s important for there not to be as much separation for the performer up on stage and all the audience members, that it’s more about everyone being on the same level,” said O’Rourke from underneath voluminous curly hair with a very present Aussie accent, wearing soulful silver-hoop earrings.
This will be Bonny’s second time touring in Europe as he works closely with a German label and has a stronger European following with over 58,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.
“I’ve toured some of Europe before, and I met this guy in Warsaw who runs a label. One of his artists lives in a small town in Poland and they’ve wanted to have someone come in for the first time, outside of the community to make music with the people that live there,” said Bonny. “So it’s like a residency that we are going to do.”
As a qualified singing instructor at the Taos Youth Music School, O’Rourke will be joining the musical collaboration effort with Bonny in Poland until December. Working throughout the week the two will spend weekends performing shows throughout Poland before they travel to Germany.
They are hopeful the international date line will help them focus more on their musical collaboration and help fuel the recording process for O’Rourke’s solo, full-length album, crossing her fingers for an early 2018 release which will include vinyl.
O’Rourke who has worked with labels and producers as a professional soloist and back-up-vocalist embodies the voice as its own instrument. Her project Shhor has a very organic sound with few instruments besides light percussive details. The final product delivers an echoing, heavily melodic, dream-like sound that utilizes vocal layering, such as her single “Slowly.” Her current single “All You Are,” that seems to describe a spiritual connection, has been created into a video filmed at the natural wonder, the Taos gorge with nearly 2,000 views. “Touch the Sky,” another single from Shhor features the style of her influences such as Ella Fitzgerald and Donny Hathaway with a heavier jazz presence and tender vocals.
“Whatever the theme is it’s something that I’m feeling or going through, like on this next record I’m going to put out one song is a lullaby, it’s literally a lullaby I’m writing to future children, it’s real,” said O’Rourke who writes music from her own emotional experiences and obstacles, “an honest place” she’s said.
Loyal to his East Coast roots and classic hip hop influences, wearing a royal red beanie, Bonny discussed content matter for his latest six-track E.P.
“It’s a reflection from years ago when I was a new father, trying to figure out how to be an adult,” Bonny said.
Listening to the album Bonny provides euphoric rhythms, jazzy trumpet and soft, contemporary R&B-style vocals with uplifting messages. Titles such as the “The Future’s Today” and “I’ll Be Here for You” present conscious-style hip hop elements and hopeful themes realizing one’s potential.
Together O’Rourke does back-up vocals for Bonny and in June they released their first recorded song together, “Way”. “An ode to connection, friendship, and support,” according to Shhor’s Bandcamp page. The single has got an early ‘90s hip hop vibe with traditional snare beats, trumpet and melodic piano. Both artists participate in vocals that are reminiscent of Usher and Faith Evans.
For the future, just as the couple is working with a Polish community, they hope to benefit from the experience and find ways to strategize, program and find equipment to help art creation and collaboration in Taos.
“I do a lot of work with youth, what I really want to do here is build upon what this area needs now and learn in Poland, working with that community, and come back here and do the same, because I’ll have a clear perspective of what I want to do here as a means of prevention of substance abuse and for treatment,” said Bonny, who works as a case manager with the youth center and the hospital.
Bonny and O’Rourke want to stress to the youth here in Taos, some whom have never left the state, that they can travel and succeed with their natural gifts. Bonny keeps his personal recorded vinyl in his office to show the youth it isn’t impossible.
Both artists have Bandcamp profiles for listening and will return to Taos in December with hopes to inspire the local youth.