Splitting her time between Chicago, IL and Nashville, TN Lia Caton is an artist that is looking to not just share her values and experiences through music but also infuse this practically through her mission to heal, inspire and advocate for causes close to home. From her debut release “Spare Some Time” in early 2020 Lia has been an active supporter in promoting and assisting work for homeless outreach after first-hand witnessed her own fathers struggles whilst she was a child. She begins 2022 with the release of her fourth single “I Keep My Eyes on You” (which was co-written with Benji Harris and produced by Sean Giovanni) ahead of an upcoming album release later this year.
“I grew up in Boston and then moved to the Chicago area in 1997 to study acting at Second City. I did that, took classes there and then got more into music. I’d always been musical growing up but never really focused on it and then I was in Chicago with a band, started writing some songs and then I got married and had kids, so that all kind of got shelved for a while. I always try to keep writing, keep active and keep creative in that aspect. Being close to the music area in Chicago, the blues scene has always something that I thought was really cool and like country music I just love the stories that they tell and what is behind it. Also, it’s real which is really important to me when selecting or listening to music. I became part of NSAI (Nashville Songwriters Association International) and through that I met some great people at the chapter in Chicago and started going down to Nashville. The rest is kind of history with just going down there, getting co-writes and immersing myself in that community, then now my family is older we are able to live there half time and half in Chicago. Country has definitely always been an influence, but I like to think of myself as a storyteller and that’s really the basis of country music. It’s our stories and telling them so it all kind of gravitated and meshed together that way with country music being the best fit for what I do and my lyrics.”
Lia has recently put out “I Keep My Eyes on You” as a single and there is the promise of an album coming very soon. We talked about the challenges around having a body of work that has had its release being held back during the pandemic and also the climate of releasing music within the industry right now along with the all-important details of when this album will finally be shared with the world. “Well, the album was originally supposed to be released two years ago and then the pandemic happened. All of the music was written and recorded at that point but with the pandemic, I didn’t feel it was the time for releasing new music. With the way that the music industry is right now is kind of like the wild west with what is or isn’t going to work at this point. Do you put out the full album or put out a single and trickle it out that way? I really feel like each of my songs has a story to tell and this album is very personal so I’m looking forward for the album being released and then maybe looking to have something a little more light-hearted. Each story is very personal and releasing them as singles would feel like letting one child out into the world at a time so we will get the album out and then can refocus on different music. We are looking at June right now and hoping for the week of CMA Fest to have the music out there where we’ll be promoting it then and hopefully, I’ll have some videos out around the same time with a big album release down in Nashville.” We went into the specifics about her current single which she co-wrote with BenjI Harris and talked about the background of the track.
“The story I tell about that song is that we all as humans go through dark periods in our life and go through a place that call the valley. It’s just a really dark place that could be anything through; work, family, illness, depression, anxiety or whatever it may be for that tough time that any person is going through. I was just in that tough place when I started writing that song and I wrote the first verse, then I talked to Benji about it. Benji is an amazing co-writer, and we have a great synergy together, so the song has kind of evolved and it’s one of my favourite songs just because it is so meaningful to me. For me I Keep My Eyes on You was either my faith or my family or both and everyone can really take that personally how they like.” As I mentioned in the introduction, Lia is an active supporter of looking to make and impact for people that have found themselves without a home. I talked about how UK charities have put an emphasis on it being people without a home rather than “homeless” being the focal point in a way to show that it really is a person, another human being rather than attaching a label. Homelessness is something that can happen to anyone at any time without it being expected as we only have to look to the other side of Europe right now to see the relevance of this point. Lia however has a personal connection to why tackling the cause and looking to help people is so important. “Homelessness or the cause of homelessness is something that, I liked the way you phrased that being PEOPLE without a home or our friends without an address. But, for the grace of God it could be anyone that is on the street and my father was homeless. He struggled with addiction and he was the inspiration behind “Spare Some Time”. You never know, everyone on the street has a story. They are someone’s mother, father, sister or brother and may even be someone that you know. My friends didn’t know that my father was homeless or that people walked past him, but someone did come and help him. That’s where my heart came from, I wasn’t able to help him, but I could go and help other people that were experiencing a similar situation.”
One way that she has been practically looking to get involved and raise awareness is with an organisation based in Champign, Illinois called C-U at Home which you can find full information about them HERE but she has particularly been a supporter of their One Winter Night event. The event is similar in a UK context to sleep out events that charities such as Centrepoint and Shelter organise over here which the website describes as an “Annual event that provides a powerful opportunity for our community to learn about homelessness, raise awareness for our friends without an address, and experience a bit of what it might be like to be outside, overnight, in the coldest part of a Central Illinois Winter.” “I had written the song “Spare Some Time” and I had never really heard anyone speak about people experiencing homelessness in their life in the way that I had written about it. I was dropping my daughter off at school one day and I had WGBL, the Christian radio station on and the director was discussing the sleepover programme and their event. How he described it was that everyone has a story, and they need your time right now then I went home and told my husband that I was going to sleep in a box this weekend and be a part of this project. Through that I called or wrote into the radio station, I can’t remember which, but I told them about the song, not for publicity reasons but that it so inspired me and would love to be a part of this event. From that point I was a box dweller, and I was also a speaker at the event to tell my dad’s story and my story with the experiences with that. That evening it was eleven degrees outside (in UK speak using Celsius, we are talking minus eleven degrees) and I got my box, brought sleeping bag and tarps then it’s spending time in your box and trying to get some sleep in your box which is an awful experience. However, life changing, at that point to experience that there are human beings living like that and it is not by choice. Homelessness is a symptom of a bigger problem which is usually either mental illness or addiction so that is the challenges that people face but it’s a great organization and after that they asked me back every year or two where I’ve been working as a performer and speaker.”
The new single “I Keep My Eyes on You” from Lia Caton is available now which you can find on all regular streaming and download platforms.
For more information on Lia and her wonderful story or to be the first to know when the album is on the way, you can check out her WEBSITE and follow her socially FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM or YOUTUBE.
True country music is honesty, sincerity, and real life to the hilt. Garth Brooks