[Pic by Liv Anastasia Ikkala. Click on icons above to follow my journey in 2020]. 

Hey dear friends.

I have consumed the last marzipan; I am drinking the final bottle of really good Italian red which we found in the back of a cupboard and last night we ate asparagus soup because it was the least Christmassy food we could think of. But let’s be clear: I am in Denmark so the hygge is still going strong. Meaning firewood burning, candles a-flickering, a parcel of deer – yes, that IS the collective noun, even *that* is festive ffs - doing a synchronised line-dance outside the frosted window. 

(Before I dig in, by the way, a very warm welcome / velkommen to all the new subscribers on this list who I’ve met along the way this year). 
There have been muddy forest walks a-plenty, watching Fenja the dog (no relation to Youtube sensation Fenton, remember him Brits?) gallop madly through the conifers, watching the little glassy brook trickle over the rocks and the translucent sunsets. I’ve even had some time to get a bit of tree-cuddling in. 

I love this part of the year, this little festive reprieve. It’s a tiny pocket where all the outside world’s cogs seem to be turning half-speed and I can really take a breath to reflect on the year gone by. I love endings because they mean beginnings, which are always full of fantasy and potential. But like a snake eating it’s tail, they are interconnected and so I try to take the chance to focus in on the moments that were enriching, rewarding, difficult or painful. All these experiences are teachers - probably the hardest ones, the best teachers of all.
And in reflecting like that, I ready myself for the new year (and new DECADE) in which I’ll maybe manage to slay another dragon or at least go in fighting, even if I come out a bit mauled, or have a instance where I’ll remember what this wonderful life is all about, even if that seems like just a fleeting fancy the day after.  

Below: this is what a good moment looks like - Paros, Greece this August. 
Looking back, I do have a bit of a feeling of accomplishment. I did more shows this year than I’ve ever done (over 40 gigs…this is JUST THE START). I learnt to leap and dive into open water, I recorded my next (and 2nd) full studio album and began a whole new project of Ladino music, working with cellist Francesca Ter-Berg.

It's been a hard graft-ey, meat and potatoes, laying the foundations kind of year - 2020 will be more rocket-launchy by the looks of things. At times, I've felt exhausted thinking about firing up the engines, once more. Other times, I felt like I was fighting my way out of a bag. But then something fun or magic will happen and I'm inspired, excited and encouraged all over again. 

So, looking back, here are some stand-out moments from the year just gone... 
1. In January, whilst I was surfing the web (aka procrastinating) in the gym changing-room...I accidentally stumbled across this mention of my last release, Oracles, which made it onto The Guardian's Critics List. It also snowed, very prettily in Copenhagen, whilst me and Bjarke Falgren shot our live vids for Red Balloon and Halos (which between them have had over 10,000 views online to date). 
2. In February, I learnt the true meaning of snow...when I was invited to perform as an official showcase artist at the intense, all-consuming, inspiring, tiring, hectic and eclectic experience known as Folk Alliance International in Montreal. The concept is basically: cram a load of folk-y / world-y types into a swanky hotel and put concerts on in every available inch of the place with different labels / promoters / organisations running each room. And whilst I do maintain there's something a bit awkward about performing with a king-sized bed between performer and the audience, it was a cool experience. A whole new thing to encounter 8ft piles of snow and temperatures of -25 degrees, too.
3. In March: I Toured Thru the UK and Denmark. Maybe this is not the most transferable life lesson but let me tell you this: there will never be a dull day when on tour, especially if you wind up sleeping at David Bowie's be-mulleted Spiders from Mars bass-player's wife's upscale cattery near Hull (true story). 

Throughout March, I toured with three musical wonders - multi-instrumentalist Bjarke Falgren (in DK) and then in the UK, double bassist Jasper Høiby and afterwards, cellist Graham Coe. During this tour I played so many quirky venues, from a old train goods shed (replete with cabaret tinsel curtains, a huge illuminated camel and a papier-maché baby Jesus), a former grocery store in Jutland, a 16th-century art gallery in Norwich, a (by day) public library in Birmingham and an former fire-station in Oxford. Guys, it's not all glamour tho. I also got food poisoning in Glasgow and headed back in a nauseous, cold sweat on the early train to London (I still love you anyway, Glasgow!).  
Above: me at The Old Firestation, Oxford - pic by Jason Warner / GlassHertzz. 
Below: Beautiful Stroud and a charming Maine Coon belonging to my friend Cara.
[Below: me and Bjarke hanging out at promoter Dorte and Lars' house in Jutland, overlooking the Lim fjord. Just out of shot: an array of woollen socks pegged and drying on the open-air porch]. 
4. In April: Parabéns você é português agora! After a couple of tense, post-Brexit years, I got news that I'd been successful in my quest to become Portuguese (500 years since my family were forced to leave...quite literally, a long story). Radio producer Leo Hornak's documentary about my journey to get nationality (including extracts of me singing Ladino songs) went out all across American airwaves and I got contacted by pretty much every Silvera in the United States, that I never knew existed. This is turn sparked the Portuguese national press, and I was interviewed for Diario de Noticias and a national radio show there too. Have a listen on PRI here if you're curious to hear Leo's great piece.
5. From April through to June I recorded my (now-finished) album with producer Gerry Diver. Ahhh what can I say?  I'm so excited to share this music with you. Gerry is such an original, creative mind and it was a joy collaborating with him alongside all the other stellar musos playing on the tracks. I'm just in the process of figuring out how this music will come into the watch this space. 
6. In August I finally learnt to jump into the water.  Despite being a very happy swimmer, I was always that person tentatively climbing down the ladder because the thought of leaping in inexplicably scared the bejesus out of me. In the general spirit of challenging these kinds of limitations, I decided to make it my mission this summer to overcome this fear. I announced my intention on Instagram and so many of you said such encouraging things, it created just the right amount of support and pressure. On a trip to Greece, I was gifted with the perfect, mostly empty pool and after many attempts of walking up to the pool edge and then bottling it, I managed a proper feet first jump, and then finally... THIS! 
7. In September I announced my new project of Ladino songs, YJA, with cellist Francesca Ter-Berg and we recorded in this beautiful space (below) with Jasper on double bass, and Gareth Finnegan engineering. For the past year, following our January debut at Copenhagen Jewish Film Festival, Fran and I have been delving into the archives - listening to Ladino songs recorded in Istanbul, Izmir, New York at a time when this new fangled gramophone technology was a recent invention...ordering obscure song books whose names were whispered to us through the small network of Ladino song enthusiasts... and learning these songs ourselves, some of which are so close to extinction I feel as if we're archeologists carefully brushing off the dust of these delicate musical fragments. Music due for the world in 2020!

Pic below: me & the fantastic Fran T-B by Liv Anastasia Ikkala.
8. In December, Christmas Magick at St Pancras Old Church with Jasper and Camden Voices. You guys made a beautiful, hilarious crowd and I was so happy to be able to commence Christmas / Hannukah /Winter Solstice with you all.
Thanks 2019. It's definitely been intense and colourful, many miles travelled, and many memories made. And thanks to you all for listening, watching, chatting, sharing, laughing, being yourselves and being in my life, even if it's just occasionally reading a mail or liking a picture or mentioning my music to a friend. It's all so very appreciated. 

As the recently departed guru Ram Dass said: "Treat everyone you meet as if they are God in drag". That's gonna be my motto for 2020. 

Happy New Year One And All. Here's to You! 
With love,
Ana x 
Copyright © 2019 Ana Silvera, All rights reserved.

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