Since childhood, getting in front of a microphone to sing has been something Robbie Van couldn’t bring herself to do. But now, having transitioned from male to female, she’s looking to not only grab hold of a mic and sing, but to turn her musical aspirations into a career and a force for good.
Roberta Joanna Vandermeer, who goes by the stage name Robbie Van, will be performing at Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge (464 Island Highway East, unit 8) on Sept. 27 (her 67th birthday), singing the songs that she says come to her like downloads from the universe, in the hopes of raising money for Haven Society.
“My whole life I’ve been in choir,” said Van. “But as a male I hid, and I couldn’t get in front of a microphone.”
That started to change when her dad passed away and she began to express her feelings about being female.
“Ten years ago, when my body finally gave up, I was a drywall contractor for 37 years, I decided I wasn’t going to fight my feelings about my nature.
“My dad had passed away… I was talking to my counsellor and my ex-wife that day about feeling female. My whole life I’ve been twisted, and that night at 3 o’clock in the morning, my first song came out, and I had to get up and write it down. Ever since, I’ve felt the call.”
Van said all kinds of songs come to her, from jazz to blues to pop and reggae — even country western, which she said she doesn’t actually like.
And now, having held a funeral for her male self/coming out party on June 26, Van said she’s determined to launch a music career, and is on the lookout for a band.
Van said she’s looking for four female band members (a guitarist, bassist, pianist and drummer) to form her band and perform locally while working towards a world tour.
Before that, however, is Van’s first concert on Sept. 27.
She’ll be performing solo with backup tracks. Van has been recording her music with the help of Michael Schutte with the Academy of Music and Art in Parksville. She’s also received support from the band Groundswell who’s members started Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge.
“They’re putting out nothing but good karma and supporting the artistic community,” Van said.
She’s looking to send out good karma herself, making her first concert a fundraiser for Haven Society.
Entry to the concert will be with a suggested donation of $20.
There will also be tea, coffee and cookies by donation.
The doors open at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge.
To hear some of Van’s music, and for more info, go to robbievan.ca.
The concert will be Van’s second good deed this year, with three planned.
At her coming out party, donations could be made to Manna Homeless Society. In late December, she plans to donate her car to a single mom.