Deicha Carter’s music goals were put on hold when she had her daughter, but now she’s the frontwoman of Deicha & the VuDudes and is using her talent to give back to the community.

 Carter has been interested in music since she was a child.

“I remember I used to take really long baths and just sing to my reflection in the little taps,” Carter recalls with a smile.

That love of music followed her into her teens, when she began to experiment with rock ‘n roll, singing in front of audiences for the first time.

“There was never a specific moment where I just woke up and said ‘Oh my gosh, I love music. I’m going to be a singer.’ I just naturally felt it my whole life.”

Though music was a big part of Carter’s life, she found herself focusing her attention on something even more important; her daughter, Ava. Becoming a single mom at a young age was a big job, and as Carter explains, the most important job she has ever had.

“My priority has kind of shifted; my focus shifted to being a mom… From that point forward, Ava was, and still is, my number one.”

It wasn’t until about six years ago that Carter was able get back into her music. That’s when she started Deicha and the VuDudes – a funk/soul band made up of Carter and some of her friends that is also referred to as ‘Deicha and the Voodoos.’

“The lineup has changed throughout the years in Deicha and the VuDudes, but every single person that has played in the band has taught me something and has added to the musical development in my life.”

The band started out with lofty goals; visions of a huge horn section, two drummers and backup singers. However, these goals were re-adjusted once they learned the realities of being a real band, and the dynamics that accompanied that. The group was able to gain some momentum in the city by playing shows and writing their own music, with influences such as Sharron Jones and the Dap Kings, Amy Winehouse and Tina Turner.

While most bands are pretty quick to release an EP, it wasn’t until this year that Deicha and the VuDudes released their first EP; ‘Left Here.’

“I think probably three years ago we just stripped everything away back to just four pieces, which were sort of the core of what’s on this album,” Carter recalls. “We were going to focus on writing and on bonding and on figuring out what we wanted our sound to be like. ‘What brings us joy when we’re making music?’ ‘How does this song feel?’ ‘How do these sounds come across?’ Really analyzing not just our music, but our experience making music.”

Although the band’s guitarist, Nathan Peebles, is responsible for most of the lyrics in the six-song EP, Carter and the other band members dabble with writing themselves; something Carter finds therapeutic.

“You can go through your experience, and in that moment, you are maybe at the peak of emotion and you’re expressing yourself, and you’re allowing things to flow. And when you go back a week later… you can kind of listen to yourself, or your thoughts, in a different perspective, and it’s soothing.”

Another thing that brings joy to Carter is organizing ‘Torch Nights’ to benefit the Calgary Women’s Centre, along with her close friend and fellow performer Abbie Thurgood.

Torch Nights take place at a variety of different pubs and bars throughout the city. Each event has a theme, usually based on a legendary female musician, like Janis Joplin, Dolly Parton, Brittany Howard, etc.

Local female or gender non-conforming acts will come in to play a few original songs, and some covers to tribute these wonderful women.

Half of the entry fee goes to the Calgary Women’s Centre and the other half goes to the musicians. However, Carter says that more often than not the musicians are happy to donate their cut of the pay.

The Calgary Women’s Centre holds a special place in Carter’s heart, as they were able to help her when she became a new mom.

“I’ve actually had to reach out to the Centre and utilize their resources in the past and potentially the future,” Carter recalls. “And I had a really great experience with them so I really wanted to sort of pay it forward and make sure that people in our community knew it existed.”

Aside from the monetary impact, Carter hopes Torch Nights will empower women to help their direct community.

“We’ve decided to talk about how, you know, allies can come in all shapes and sizes,” shares Carter. “We are rooted in the idea of being a platform for women to express their art for the benefit of women in the community.”

Carter herself performs at Torch Nights alongside Thurgood and her other band, the Torchettes.

“It’s a rollercoaster, but of the best kind,” says Thurgood in regard to working with Carter. “She’s got so much on the go at all times. It’s kind of insane to see. She’s like a superhuman. So to work with her, it’s pretty incredible. I mean, as much as she has on her plate, she always adds more and she just pushes through.”

But, despite that business, Carter has even more she wants to achieve in the future: she hopes that Deicha and the VuDudes will be able to perform in festivals and perhaps do a mini tour to the West Coast in 2018. As always, the rest of the band is completely on board.

“It’s much easier when you have someone who can sing like that,” explains Peebles, about performing with Carter. “Sometimes we joke that I don’t even need to be plugged in,” he says with a laugh.

Above all else, Carter would love to keep doing what she’s doing.

“It would be the ultimate success to be able to continue to make music, and to be able to play around town as a seventy-year-old woman, playing a sold-out-show in the Ironwood, and my family would be there, and my friends. That would be the life.”

kbistretzan@cjournal.ca

Editor: Omar Subhi Omar | oomar@cjournal.ca