TORONTO – Alex Kraczyk says music has been a way out of the tragic and unsolved murders of his parents Barry and Honey Sherman nearly five years ago.
Reflecting on her first folk album, the singer-songwriter says putting her thoughts into music is a way to process a tragedy that changed her family forever.
“It’s been very heavy,” he said in a phone interview.
“Shock, grief, heartache, confusion, fear, anger and sadness. All kinds of really challenging things that I’ve been learning to live with over the years.”
The warm reception of “Le Olam”, which was released earlier this year, was part of the way forward, he said. Last month, the album earned her a nomination for New/Emerging Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
Krawczyk never sings directly about his family, but his lyrics explore feelings of love, loss and grief, offering comforting reassurance and optimism.
“The songs have a lot of different meanings,” he said, “but they’re all about trying to deal with something that’s really impossible to understand or comprehend.”
In December 2017, her parents – two well-respected billionaires and fixtures of the Toronto philanthropic community – were found dead in their Toronto home. The murder investigation is still ongoing.
Kraczyk said he began writing songs for “Le Olam” in 2019 with Toronto-based songwriter Robbie Roth in hopes of helping listeners who are facing major challenges in their lives.
“Unfortunately, the grief and trauma I endured is universal,” he said.
Roth and Krakczyk went through their songwriting process together, with Roth handling the melody and Krakczyk writing the lyrics, sometimes vice versa.
“We had this really dynamic and fun process of getting together and jamming and being creative,” he recalls.
With the help of his friends, such as Roth and Canadian vocalist Dion Taylor, “Le Olam” became a success. Taylor provided backup vocals on several songs on the album and was credited as both a featured artist and a songwriter on the song “Remember”.
In the song “Better Days,” Krakczyk shares that despite the struggles, part of the healing process is looking forward to a better tomorrow. He sings: “A new day is dawning, the sun will break, for me and you.”
Krawczyk notes that the most meaningful songs on his album are “Remember” and “There Will Be Light” because they both project an oasis of hope.
“I find ‘There Will Be Light’ the most inspiring and encouraging and heartwarming, but ‘Remember’ really encapsulates the struggle I’m still going through,” he said.
“Remember” carries a more country tone, but the lyrics detail her moments of anger after her parents’ murder, such as “I wanted you to know that the hate you grew was getting out of control.” But it also has uplifting and heartfelt lyrics like “Let go of all your pain, learn to heal the past.”
“There Will Be Light” combines indie pop and country with Krakczyk’s gentle rocking vocals to bring a meaningful prayer through the song.
After the release, Krawczyk worried about how others would react to the album’s vulnerable and personal nature.
“I didn’t really know what kind of reception I would get,” she said. “It’s really encouraging that I’ve received such positive feedback and really great reviews.”
Krawczyk currently balances her work as a registered nurse working on new music, volunteering in community health and studying public health.
Despite the attention each role demands, he said he enjoys the many ways he can help others through his music or through his work.
“I’m very grateful that we have so many ways to interact with the world in a positive way,” she said.
The CFMAs will be held March 31-April 2, 2023 Other top nominees are Tennyson King, Redfox, Andrew Waite, Cheval and Cami.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published on November 1, 2022.
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