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A NOTE ON 'VABA ESTE'
‘Vaba Eesti,’ as it is properly spelled, is the name of my folks’ sailboat. The 1980’s-era boat, symbolizing liberty and mobility, has provided countless blissfully challenging days for my family as we work together to ballroom dance with the wind.
The boat’s original owners were Estonian immigrants, who named it after the expatriate newspaper ‘Vaba Eesti Soña,’ or ‘Free Estonian Word’. The publication, founded in New York City in 1949, connected Estonian immigrants to news from their Eastern European homeland, which had been under Soviet occupation since 1940.
During the occupation, the Soviets displaced a majority of Estonia’s political and cultural leaders, enforced a ‘Russification’ program which limited Estonian cultural expression, and imprisoned, indentured, or executed many Estonian citizens. Beginning under Stalin, the occupation affected a cultural and political genocide that lasted through the fall of the Soviet Union under Mikhail Gorbachev.
Nevertheless, Estonian resistance cracked through the Soviet shell by way of the ‘Singing Revolution’. The Singing Revolution bolstered Estonian liberties through non-violent means such as collective singing, mass demonstration, and public works. The movement undermined Soviet rule until 1991, when Gorbachev was arrested and the Estonian state finally declared independence. The sheer power of mass movement and song returned Estonia to sovereignty without any bloodshed.
Inspired by the Singing Revolution and invigorated by many hours on the sailboat, I’ve named my EP ‘VABA ESTE’. The EP reflects my life as a young woman in late-capitalist, mass-mediated America, weaving personal narratives into theoretical explorations of the nation’s claims to freedom.The title is a multilingual play-on-words, linking the Estonian ‘vaba’ (“free”) with the Latin ‘este’ (“this”) to mean ‘FREE THIS’- this woman, this nation, and perhaps even the listener.
<3 AVA, 2019.
MY 2019 TINY DESK ENTRY
My (old) band, self-recorded and produced in 2018. buckwheat is AVA, Ian Greer, Jon VanNote, and Mitchell Schaumberg.
Photo by Hadley Bates, 2017.
CITY FT. OLIVIA LANGAN
Self-recorded and produced in Fall 2018.
A self-produced EP from 2017. Made in collaboration with and dedicated to Nat Harvie.
Header image by Josie Bauman, 2018.