Content warning: Some moderately strong language.
I realized yesterday that offering myself to collaborations might make some clarifications necessary. There are some things I won’t sing.
All of that is based on one simple fact: In the moment I sing something, I believe it. With all my heart. I have to be (at least temporarily) totally convinced to sing something in a convincing way. Singing is, to me, an act of magic. And of course, there are some things I won’t support with that sort of magic.
So, some points:
I despise nationalism. I may love the spot where I live now, but my love extends to all of the planet. I firmly believe humans should work towards solving their conflicts without violence. We, as a species, have screwed up seriously. Our only way to not getting deeper into shit, maybe even arriving at a better place for ALL of us (not only a dwindling number of happy few), is working together, reducing, not reinforcing, the walls that keep us from each other. So, national glory of any kind is something I will not sing about.
I am, as you might have realized, Asatrú (a branch of paganism focused on the Norse gods). I have no hostility against other religions, but I won’t sing monotheist prayers or liturgic texts. No matter in which language, no matter if I understand it without help. I understand Latin quite decently, but even if it were Sanskrit or Tibetan, I would still check the content of a text. I have no problem with songs from polytheist or polytheist-positive religions – although, in the case of lyrics from non-European cultures, I want to be careful about cultural appropriation. After all, I’m a privileged white gal. I’m not automatically entitled to use everything I can find from India, from the Maori or from Native American cultures (just a few examples I already came across), or entitled to sing a mantra that is reserved for some special rite in Tibetan Buddhism and believed to have special powers. And I won’t sing songs that pretend I’m a Christian.
I’ll also not sing lyrics that portray science and religion as opposites, because that’s a notion I’ve been fighting for some years.
I am also reluctant to sing love lyrics. There’s so much going on about love, especially monogamous romantic love, in music, to the exclusion of other meaningful relationships in life. And lyrics that can’t be interpreted but in a heterosexual way make me hesitate even more.
There’s a serious lack of explicitly queer or queer-positive lyrics. Us queers, we’re suffering from being constantly ignored, overlooked, being treated as the exception, being un-mentioned. (And when we’re noticed, things often get really nasty.) I don’t want to perpetuate the assumption that heterosexual perspectives are universal and valid for everyone and queer perspectives can be dismissed.
I had to sing quite a lot of hetero content in my career as a classical singer. I could somehow get that at a distance because most of it was portraying a historic situation, most of it was written over a century ago (and then there’s some queer niches, like the castrato repertoire and trouser roles, and crossdressing in operatic plots). Now I can pick and choose. Lyrics written today are nearer to my situation. I can’t change historic times, but I can refuse to support ongoing stereotyping of today.
Sounds like a lot of things to avoid, but in fact, that leaves pretty much to be sung.