Erin Dougherty of
Interviewed by: Moriah Hope
Ceremonial Photography by: Madelyn Soldner Sullivan
It started as a jewel of inspiration glimmering in the ethers. The melody, the lyrics, the meanings and metaphors, bound together within a song seed in the heavens like a star ready to birth a supernova. A mysterious force plants the seed in my consciousness. I feel it. I know it’s there, ready to be expressed. Do I have the courage to sing the tune of the cosmos? Might I trust the intuitive flow of creation?
I do not think about what’s going to be sung. I tune in to the muse and allow it to move. Lyrics arise like a rainbow appearing in the mist. Like a cyclical dance of energy between singer and listeners, the two activate one another. Call it vibrational transformation.
What else is possible when we trust in the divine flow of all things? Little Star, a 20-years-young, up and coming songstress, knows the muse well. Wise beyond her years, she’s been gifted with the ability wrap her listeners in a sphere of healing harmony. With aesthetic lyricism that resonates in the deepest recesses of the heart, Erin Dougherty has brought to life her very first album, Celestine.
“I sing to All That Is…
the infinite power, knowing, and grace just within;
In hopes that these waves of sound may reach you and move you,
…allow you to feel the light of your own within. “
SYJ: I’ll never forget that music is what initially sparked our friendship. I found Erin on Youtube singing a Nahko Bear cover at the ripe age of 16. A few months later we bumped into each other at a Rising Appalachia concert. Erin, what was your early experience with music?
Erin: Music has always been such a powerful and transformative force in my life. For as long as I can remember, I have been called to write songs, and it has always been my most authentic and fulfilling medium of creative expression.
In my early teens, when I was just beginning to open to my spiritual awareness, many of my deepest, most euphoric and soul-stirring experiences transpired through the shimmering, shape shifting spirit scape that music opens to us.
Song has always been a guide or messenger to me, or maybe a reflection of my own spirit leading me into spaces of growth, initiation and freedom. Feeling the bliss transmitted through thousands of hearts at shows, or through my own mind and body through dance may have been my first experiences of truly feeling sacred space. Once I knew the power of this sacred space within, there came a desire to hold this space for others and offer it through my own music.
SYJ: When did you know music was an avenue you would go on to pursue?
Erin: I have always known that being a musician was my soul’s true work. However, it wasn’t until my junior year of high school, while touring colleges, that I really had the strong and empowering knowing that I could pursue this work, simply by believing that I could. We have been raised in a paradigm that says that the pursuit of artistic work is not real, substantial or possible. However, I knew that I would never feel right following a path that wouldn’t allow me to live each day with a passion that mirrored the vastness of my spirit’s calling.
The universe wants your soul’s most profound offerings to be expressed and to flourish, to inspire and uplift all those around you. Once you commit to showing up to your self fully each and every day in whatever way you are meant to, all else becomes natural. Messages begin to find you, spirit begins to provide for you, and just the right opportunities for growth begin to arise at just the right time.
SYJ: What is the story behind the name Little Star?
Erin: Star has always resonated with me because it’s how I perceive or visualize my spiritual self – my formless, timeless, higher self. I have always felt inspired by the night sky and the celestial realm. And on a biological level, light (or simply energy) is our truest eternal form.
Star allows me to immediately connect into that more expansive space within myself, to release my mental perceptions or assumptions of ‘me’ or my limits, and to truly be in the space which muse asks. In my music, I want to offer those higher and underlying truths that exist always within us, regardless of what we are going through.
And Little honors the way a ‘young’ vessel can so simply and gracefully, without question, carry forth the Wisdom, Knowing and Truth of the eternal. It honors the simple understanding, creative energy and perception of interconnectedness that often comes with freshness of life or any experience of rebirth throughout our lives. So maybe Little Star is a juxtaposition representative of the human experience, to symbolize and remind us of the POWER that is within each of us.
SYJ: Like a one-woman orchestra, Little Star performances are all woven together through a few accompaniments and a loop station. Can you describe all the components of sound that make up your musical masterpieces?
Erin: Yes! I have always loved harmony and layering of vocals, so the looping pedal has been a wonderful tool for me. I usually begin by recording one vocal line, and then layering several more parts over it to create a foundation or base for the song. Then, I will bring in melody, lyrics, and harmony above that.
I love weaving rich and dynamic tapestries of sound, and voice is the most natural and fulfilling instrument for me right now. There is a fluidity, grace, primal power, and an ebb and flow that feels especially potent to me in voice compositions.
SYJ: What is the general ethos behind your first album, Celestine?
Erin: Celestine means ‘of spirit’ or ‘of the ethereal.’ I crafted this album with the intention of creating a sacred offering, a space that would carry through sound and word. It was really my intention to create hymns that would bring people to an internal landscape where they could release space and time and feel the currents of their power. From that place, we feel back into our flame and awaken our completely unique medicine within the collective mosaic. Once we are activated through the purpose of our heart, we can transform our outer world so quickly.
So, Celestine is a prayer for these deeper Truths to be revealed. It is an invocation for me to step into my higher self and the space I wish to hold. It sings to the tune of wonder and beauty and love for the entirety of creation. And I hope that it has some magic to offer you!
SYJ: I imagine you relate to the preface of this interview, being a star yourself. How might you put into words your unique connection to the creative force, the muse?
Erin: Muse to me is the breath that blows upon the flickering flame at the center of our being.
It is the breath that fills this flame with energy. This flame carries the blueprint of our highest self that is always calling us to evolve upon our path. Muse is the deeply intelligent, playful, benevolent, co-creative urge of the universe to lead us to fulfillment. Muse comes to us in moments of unexpected clarity, in melodies received as if upon ripples of water.
Through flickers of inspiration and knowings of transcendent perfection, muse speaks. She is the persistent call to gather our courage and stand taller, embody ourselves greater than ever before. Her web of creation is the expansiveness of our own truth. She lives to lead us deeper into the ever evolving and expanding horizon of co-creation.
SYJ: You recognize music as a tool for healing. Lets say all musicians had a sort of ‘physicians bio’ in regards to their musical healing practice. What might yours say?
Erin: Hmmm, something like: “Through harmonic resonance and spirit encircling emanations of sound, Little Star’s angelic hymns will carry forth medicine from the pools of universal life force energy to fill and still the mind and body. They will vibrationally align, open, and raise your molecules to their highest Truth, allowing your spirit to extend its wholeness, love, clarity and transformational power to all of your reality!”
SYJ: What has been your guiding light on this creational journey?
Erin: My biggest guiding light has been Trust in Self! MY deepest compass and constant has been trust in my dreams and heart’s knowing above all. Know that dreams and visions of your future self, role, creations and so on are pure images of your own potentiality. They come because they are entirely possible, because they are already inside of you and seeking to come to life and be shared with the world.
Trusting, honoring and loving Self is one of the greatest keys in opening our unlimited potential. It may seem like blind faith at first, but this mindset has brought me to such fulfilling depths in life and has created the most empowering relationship I have ever had with myself.
Another very powerful guiding light has been the continual practice of envisioning the reality that I want to grow into. When I was in high school and couldn’t yet devote much of my time to creating music, every day I would envision that which I wished to create and experience and be, and really feel the sensation of that reality as if I were already living it. I would feel the joy of living with purpose as a musical artist.
Over time, I came to feel that this was my truth. This is a powerful tool, because before long, these dreams and versions of self that you meditate on become embedded within your molecular awareness, and you begin to vibrate at that frequency, and you simply begin to be or create or change your life in the ways that before might have seemed out of reach.
SYJ: Lyrics are a powerful catalyst for motivation. Share with us one of your all time favorites and how it’s helped you in your day to day.
Erin: A lyric that is very sacred to me is “Everything is beautiful, let the music carry us together.” The lyrics came to me through a DJ mix made by a friend of mine named Chris. Chris was an amazing and unbelievably inspiring musician and human but he passed away very young. Still, I could feel his spirit everywhere as if it permeated everything – the sunlight, the land, the sky, music, myself.
This soul stirring sense of his spirit’s unification with everything everywhere all at once was the first experience that really grounded me into a knowing that this form of his spirit was a mirror of my own. I was listening to his songs and mixes at that time, and this lyric so beautifully mirrored the understanding I was receiving. I could now tap into this expansive power to create the life I had always dreamed of.
It is a simple line, but when we step back and look at life from a larger perspective, it all becomes this simple. Beauty and unification are all that remain real in the end. Through this perspective, I saw this life on earth as so minuscule within the greater universe and expanse of time. I understood the everlasting, all pervading essence of our souls, and saw that life is our momentary canvas to paint with love and embodied joy, and I realized there was nothing to be afraid of.
SYJ: If you had the opportunity to collaborate with any musician, who would it be? Why?
Erin: I have always envisioned opening for Nahko – to anchor a deep sacred feminine space of invocation as a balancing and enriching force to the primal power and masculine medicine that Medicine For The People carries so beautifully in their shows.
I would also love to share my songs with different electronic producers and make some Celestine remixes! I’ve felt very aligned with and inspired by Yaima these days, so collaborating with them would be a very powerful experience for me.
SYJ: How do you envision Little Star’s evolution? Are there other instruments and genres you’d like to play with?
Erin: We shall see! After devoting so much energy to the recording and mixing of Celestine with my amazing producer Chadzilla, I am very excited to return to writing and see what comes forth! I definitely want to expand my instrumental fluency, and deepen my relationship with electronic producing as well.
I would love to continue merging ceremony and music. I have a vision of really holding powerful shamanic spaces, containers, and journeys for my listeners. I would also love to begin DJ’ing ecstatic dances, and creating sets that weave in and out with live singing and looping.
SYJ: How can our readers find more on Little Star music?
Erin: My music is available for ‘name your price’ on Bandcamp at littlestarmusic.bandcamp.com. I am also on Soundcloud at soundcloud.com/littlestarmusic, as well as on Spotify and iTunes! I would love to connect and share my music with you!