To quote a movie I saw: How could something as important as life be so fragile?
But fragile it is.
Toronto singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell was only 19 years old, but even at that tender age, she had already put out an album. She was recently nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award. And she was on tour, performing for audiences in Nova Scotia.
On the afternoon of October 27, Taylor was hiking Cape Breton’s Skyline Trail when she was attacked by two coyotes.
A nearby hiker heard her cries and summoned help. Taylor made it to a hospital, but she died the next morning, her mother by her side.
A remembrance by Taylor’s house concert host is here. “Taylor was in our home fewer than two days, but while here she blended in like she was one of our own. Steve and I would have had her stay forever, we liked her that well.”
Come November 21st, Taylor would have found out whether or not she won the Young Performer of the Year award.
From an interview by friend and journalism student Audrey Contans:
Q: I’ve always known you as the girl to ask what book I should read next. Is there any link between music and literature?
I always found that the best songwriters are bookworms. I for one am completely inspired by what I read. A musician’s job is the same as a writer: build strong characters, plot, and find a balance between dialogue and imagery. It’s the same with painters, dancers, etc. The more I learn about the arts, the more I’m convinced that there is no clear line separating any given art form.
Q: So what are you currently reading?
I just finished The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test for the third time, The Bell Jar the second, and Ulysses for the fifth. I’m thinking of getting into the Russian writers in the fall…some Tolstoy and Solzhenitsyn. And then maybe reread I’m With the Band for the fifth time to lighten the mental load (laughs).
The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test AND Tolstoy. In these pictures Taylor wears a 1950s-style floral sun dress, but also a harmonica rack, guitar and cowboy boots. What a woman!
Excerpt from lament by longtime friend Ariel Lewis: “She is the only one I ever knew who agreed that go-go dancing to the Jefferson Airplane was the only way to start your morning. She is the only one I ever knew who was prepared to debate over who was the more attractive, Pete Townsend or Mick Jagger, with the same degree of importance as if debating world politics. She was the only one I ever knew who thought that going out at midnight to watch The Last Waltz on the big screen was a brilliant proposition rather than an absurd one.”
Below is the view from the Skyline Trail of Cape Breton in a 2010 photograph by Ryan Labrosse. If someday you walk this trail, take a moment to remember Taylor Mitchell and her well-lived life.
Update: The family has set up a memorial fund in Taylor Mitchell’s name.