Canadian Acoustic-Folk Group Dala Enchants Scripps Community

By Heidi Hong ‘12Arts & Entertainment Editor

Last Friday, Canadian acoustic-folk duo Dala performed at Scripps College for a mixed audience of students, faculty and community members as part of the Levitt on the Lawn series.

Dala opened the concert under drizzling rain, strumming a guitar ballad version of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance.” The rain did not deter the audience, who waited patiently with towels over their heads for the promised Californian sun to resurface. As the rain stopped, the yellow-tinged clouds receded to reveal a sky painted blue, an ethereal landscape to match Dala’s lush, dreamlike sound.

Sheila Carabine and Amanda Walther befriended each other in their high school band class and created the name Dala by combining the last two letters of their first names. They began composing two years after becoming friends. Since then, Dala has produced five albums, garnered multiple awards, and performed at a number of venues across Canada. Dala has opened for artists such as Chantal Kreviazuk, Tom Cochrane, and Matthew Good. Most recently, the duo performed on PBS

Scripps College is only one stop in Dala’s first tour of Southern California. “My face has never seen so much Vitamin D,” Walther said. The pair enjoyed their days off in Santa Monica. “It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been,” Carabine said.

Dala’s songs are inspired by a variety of topics ranging from the desire to be perfect, a friend’s unfortunate romance with a hockey player and Canadian landscapes. “Horses,” a melancholy and wistful piano ballad, is dedicated to a man who suffered severe injuries after a car accident and persevered in spite of adversity.

The duo also played a number of classic folk covers, including a haunting rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” and “Red is the Rose,” a soft, ethereal cover of a traditional Irish folk song.

According to Carabine and Walther, they collaborate on all of their original songs. “The advantage is that we end up having two minds and two different creative forces to bring to the table,” Walther said. “We hold each other to high standards with lyrics and melody, and we have the exact same taste in music, which is great,” added Carabine.

Indeed, Carabine’s alto and Walther’s soprano harmonize beautifully in songs such as “Levi Blues,” a simultaneously wistful and upbeat tune about the downs of travelling and leaving their significant others behind.

The pair said that their friendship has only strengthened after sharing so much together as coworkers. “We go to everything together. No one else can really understand what I’m going through except for Amanda,” Carabine said. “We share the lead, we share the songwriting, we share everything completely equally and it’s humbling,” Walther added.

The show attracted a diverse audience from the Claremont community, including faculty, staff, small children and pets. The concert was sponsored by Levitt Pavilions, a nationwide nonprofit art program that provides free outdoor concerts for the community. Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch SCR ’74, sponsor of the series, said that the most important aspect of the program is bringing diverse people together through art. “Everybody came together, peaceful; it was idyllic and gorgeous,” she said.

Because Levitt Hirsch wanted to stay close to her alma mater, she made efforts to bring Levitt Pavilion to Scripps. “We created something called Levitt on the Lawn, so these brilliant students on campus, the talented and forward-thinking women, could experience Levitt,” Levitt Hirsch said.

Dala’s most recent album “Everyone Is Someone” was released in June 2009.