Written by By Andrea Bowers, CNN New York
Singer, activist and CNN Style Global Woman of the Year, Andrea Bowers , 37, is used to being in the spotlight. For the last three years, she has been relentlessly touring globally as part of her Naked Hearts Project , the story of her life and hopes that share through her bold, vibrant and powerful art.
The result is a series of neon, electric, confetti-spitting tracks inspired by her international travels. After night, it’s a deceptively calm, sparkly, stripped-down daily lifestyle of home-cooked meals, working out, living simply and the deep passion and determination it takes to live so fully.
Is it a cathartic release or a reveal of your own excess? A form of choreography or dance performance? Or, as it was originally, a poem?
“I wanted to create a pure experience — creating a space for myself to live by myself and still inspire myself,” says Andrea, whose Naked Hearts Project started in 2016.
Artist Andrea Bowers. Credit: Courtesy Andrea Bowers
One night, while performing in Shanghai, she began to write “Une Favorite (Unhappy Ever After),” a heartfelt song chronicling her struggles with addiction, addiction to substances, depression and insecurities that came alongside crippling anxiety. She performed this song, along with four others, in a raw, autobiographical “performance” that the following day was picked up by a Melbourne arts collective.
Since then, the Naked Hearts Project has blossomed into an expanding global project that has delighted audiences with their brimming social consciousness and simple, electrifying glamour.
Her songs explore love, addiction, depression, hatred, recovery, life and love, and are beautifully nostalgic, hypnotic and wholly original.
As she continues to juggle being a performer and mother, a heroin addict and wife, Andrea has also written the book ( 2016 ) “Life Without Glory ,” about the experiences of addiction.
Published by the Believer, a Canadian publishing house, the book explores Andrea’s past as a heroin addict and survivor of sexual abuse. The nuanced text, spoken out of her own experience and in the more rarefied environments of traditional writing workshops, examines forgiveness, redemption and the harsh realities of living on the fringes of society.
In stark contrast to the brutal violence and destruction of the drug trade, Andrea writes of a softer side, affectionately identified as the film buff, the music lover, and the activist. Her fearlessness in sharing her story has been applauded throughout the United States, as well as by the Canadian and New Zealand governments.
CNN Style: Andrea Bowers discusses her life in music and activism
What is your message to those who may dismiss what you describe as a “normal” life?
My story is not “normal” but the messaging around normalcy and normalcy is important. Regardless of the content of the article, once it enters our heads, something has changed inside of us. And it will stay with us as long as we remember that these things do exist.
The music has become the voice that says this has never happened, it doesn’t have to happen to you, and it doesn’t have to define you. That is what I want people to take away from the art.
Some of your songs might suggest that there is beauty in being unhappy. But on the Naked Hearts Project’s own Instagram page, the message is more simple: to love yourself.
People think that I’m a negative artist. But my idea of happiness is two-fold. Firstly, this feeling that my life is so rich and full that I actually appreciate it and it doesn’t require anything “better.” Secondly, there is a sense of peace and contentment that comes with being happy. I may have been there before or in the past, but these days it’s completely peaceful.