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Race & Identity

Laila’s Family: Exploring My American Heritage

Oregon OR Roseburg Lookingglass woodland forest scenery green greenery countryside sisters smith rock tennis white clothes urban outfitters tapeparade blog tape parade lailaOregon OR Roseburg Lookingglass woodland forest scenery green greenery countryside sisters smith rock tennis white clothes urban outfitters tapeparade blog tape parade lailaGolden sunset sunshine sunrise rocks earth smith rock oregon scenery sunsetGolden sunset sunshine sunrise laila yellow gingham sundress dress outside

I’m currently working on two albums. The first album deals with the death of my best friend, and the second album explores my American heritage. I chose the second album as I was worried concentrating solely on the first (the original plan) would drive me into some sort of emotional blackhole and as I’m currently applying for citizenship it seemed an appropriate way to mark the summer. I’m immersing myself in ideas to do so – I’m watching a lot of US documentaries, I’m re-reading Middlesex, I’ve got playlists coming out of my ears and I’ve even thrown together a Pinterest board of my american heroes..!

My Family Roots

It’s all very well having abstract American references but I’m trying to work through those ideas to something concrete. I get my American genes from my mother’s side. My grandmother is a born and bred American, with other members of the family including a logger who built his own house (Little House on the Prairie style), a cowboy Uncle (complete with ranch, banjo and motorcycle), a nurse who ran away to live in deepest Alaska and a runaway Cherokee bride. There’s a lot of great stories and an even larger number of tragic stories – but I’ve decided not just to examine my family, but also the American culture in my life and how I’ve interacted with it.

The album is so far a mixture of covers and original songs about my heritage. Growing up I was always proud to come from such a wealth of stories and characters, but as I get older it’s important to start humanising the mythology. I’m also excited to interpret various classic songs through the lens of my family and ancestors, and it’s hard not to see the irony (or possibly poetry?) in hearing my very distinctive London accent sing about the Great Plains and Route 66. It couldn’t have come at a better time – July 4th is just round the corner and I’ll be in fine American form for this years celebrations (a big house party – I’ll be dressed either as Lady Liberty or aforementioned Cherokee relative). Will you be celebrating?

All photos from my epic trip round America last year – read here.
Oregon outside evening lawn view mountains prineville laila tapeparade laila check dress navy
Salt Lake City tapeparade USA 2014 travel travelling journal photographyJuly 4th independence day new york city tapeparade lailaJuly 4th independence day new york city tapeparade laila

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18 Comments

  • Reply marieken

    I loved your red and white checkered skirt and the first two pictures, they would look awesome as a framed print! Good luck on your albums, and I am sorry to hear about your friend.

    June 29, 2015 at 12:50 pm
  • Reply Denise

    That’s amazing! I guess you understand me pretty well, when once I told you about some things and then you wrote a post on the topic (your friend) and immediately wrote me saying “don’t read it!” I thanked you for that, because now you see we can avoid the black holes somehow – if we try. Occupy mind and days 🙂 Well, but then let’s speak about this album now! I am so eager to hear it, I bet it will be great! And also, I don’t tell this to people on my blog 🙂 but I have studied at and worked for an American school for ages! Then I moved to London, later to the Midlands and people made fun of my accent 🙂 I went to a shop to buy to-may-dohs 🙂 and the lady told me “we don’t have them, but tomatoes” you know what I mean 🙂 I wanted to buy crisps and asked for chips – they told me “ah, Fish and Chips next corner” and looked for the elevator (with big suitcases) at Green Park station and the guy told me “no, the station doesn’t have it” 🙂 Then I left thinking ooooh, the stairs, the suitcases are heavy and he shouted “mIss, miss! I guess you meant lift?” It was so funny! So be prepared for that BUT one thing – Americans find British accent wow, so cool! I loved the party you will throw, and would like the Cherokee costume! I always celebrated Halloween and Thanksgiving IN costumes 🙂 And I loved the pictures you put here! I think you will love this new phase, have you thought of actually living in the US? I think you totally look like a cool Californian girl!
    DenisesPlanet.com

    June 29, 2015 at 9:01 pm
    • Reply tapeparade

      Wow Denise, I can’t believe you have americanised words and phrases! It’s Not something I would have associated with you so very interesting to read about! Xx

      July 4, 2015 at 4:11 am
  • Reply GYPSI

    i have a friend taking the citizenship test soon, good luck to you both!
    gypsiblog.com
    -elle

    June 30, 2015 at 3:42 am
  • Reply PinkBow

    amazing images from the us 🙂

    June 30, 2015 at 8:44 am
  • Reply Kati

    Oh, these are such pretty snapshots!

    -Kati

    June 30, 2015 at 8:23 pm
  • Reply Monika

    That’s pretty crazy that all of those stories and characters come from one family. I know that every family and every ancestry has it’s story to tell but yours definitely seems pretty interesting. I’m sure you have more than enough material to work with and even though you don’t want to focus too much on the dark stuff I bet it will be cathartic when you do.

    -M
    http://www.violetroots.com

    July 1, 2015 at 10:15 pm
    • Reply tapeparade

      I know, I have a pretty crazy family background!! X

      July 3, 2015 at 9:34 pm
  • Reply ellieeburns

    i love these photos! (and your outfits too!)

    July 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm
  • Reply Meg Siobhan

    Looks like you had a great time in America! I really want to go there sometime, it’s just deciding WHERE to go!

    July 3, 2015 at 10:48 am
    • Reply tapeparade

      It’s so big isn’t it! I know it’s difficult to know where to head! X

      July 3, 2015 at 6:29 pm
  • Reply Laura

    i didn’t even know about your american heritage before seeing your 4th of july post on social media, haha! good luck with both the albums and the citizenship! also, all these photos are lovely! xx

    July 5, 2015 at 2:19 pm
  • Reply Priya

    Uh- fascinating! And you’re getting your citizenship?! Awesome!!!

    Only in the recent years have I really started making an effort to learn about my extended family. I’ve visited them, and met many of them, but because we always lived so far away, I never knew much about the background of my parents. It is such a cool thing to learn about.

    ♥ perfectly Priya

    July 8, 2015 at 7:25 pm
    • Reply tapeparade

      Well, not any time soon… fingers crossed they let me in!! X

      July 10, 2015 at 3:51 pm
  • Reply Christina

    I love hearing stories about my grandparents and their parents! Probably not as colourful as yours but still 🙂 your album sounds like it’s going to be a great mix with so much heart behind it! Can I have a signed copy pls?

    July 14, 2015 at 3:25 pm
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