The ebb and flow of creativity is difficult to harness, but even harder to predict.
For songwriter Mina Whitesides, a midlife hormonal shift brought about a period of intense and prolific writing. She was suddenly able to face the realities of her life from a whole new perspective and found herself and her creative voice in the process.
This revelation was both joyous and fraught. Her marriage and creative partnership was ending, she’d been writing songs with her then-husband for 25 years, and she was facing the loss of her parents. All the while, she was working it out through song, just her and the piano. It was 2011, and she was going it alone.
But Whitesides had begun to recognize her newfound artistic bounty could lend itself to building a new community through collaboration.
Enter two separate open mic nights in two different towns.
Whitesides found herself at Corkscrew Wine Bar in Sellwood, where she connected with Jen Deale and Chris Spicer (of Camp Crush), who ran an open mic night there. Deale and Whitesides would remain friends, working together sporadically until Deale lent her vocals to the latest songwriting project, “Tall Tales and Twisted Lies,” produced by Matt Greco of The Rye Room in 2018.
According to Whitesides, “Tall Tales and Twisted Lies” is a “song and video that looks at a relationship that has been damaged with broken trust. The perspective is from one who is starting to feel comfortable, but has a gnawing concern in the back of their mind regarding the past.” The video was produced by Spicer, who appears in the video with vocalist Deale—watch below.
In 2014, a local open mic night also brought Whitesides together with producer Peter Linesman of Music Mentor Productions in Toronto. Later, Linesman introduced her to singer Carla Sacco. Whitesides adds that Sacco, after “being burned by a couple of folks” in the music industry, had built a successful career out of tribute shows. It was the right time to try something new. They began working together consistently, finding a rhythm as a trio: producer, singer and songwriter.
The track “Love Is” was produced by Whitesides’ Toronto team and filmed in Portland, after Greco introduced her to videographer Derich Hartfeil (The Rye Room Sessions). For Whitesides, “Love Is” brings together her two artistic communities (Portland and Toronto) and two forms of artistic expression (music and dance).
The inspiration for this video, Whitesides recalls, began with taking an adult jazz class with Jessica Post at the Oregon Ballet Theatre School. “I shared [with Post] that I have always wanted to do a dance film to one of my songs,” Whitesides says. “I have loved dance my whole life and the natural marrying of the two has always fascinated me.” Post jumped at the idea and a new collaboration was born. The video features Jessica Post (principal choreographer), Caty Raupp and Amelia Unsicker—watch below.
What was it like to see the culmination of artistry and community come together in this way? Whitesides says that it was “one of the greatest moments of [her] life.”