Margaret Atwood involved with songs honouring domestic abuse victims

The acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood has lent her writing to ‘Songs For Murdered Sisters’, an eight-song project in remembrance of women killed by their partners.

Margaret Atwood involved with songs honouring domestic abuse victims

Award-winning author Margaret Atwood has collaborated on a new eight-song project that commemorates victims of domestic abuse. 

‘Songs For Murdered Sisters’ was born from one of the worst cases of domestic violence in Canadian history. In 2015, Nathalie Warmerdam was one of three women killed by the same ex-partner, who in 2017 was imprisoned for life. Her brother, Joshua Hopkins, channeled his grief through his passion for music in being an acclaimed baritone. He says ‘I knew that as an opera singer I had a voice and I could use that voice to tell my sister’s story and also to bring awareness to the global epidemic that is violence against women and gender-based violence.’

‘Songs For Murdered Sisters’ opens with Atwood’s lyrics: “Who was my sister / is now an empty chair / Is no longer / Is no longer there / She is now emptiness / She is now air.” The author herself has known two women in her life who were murdered by jealous ex-partners, so Joshua’s story of losing his sister to the same fate ‘resonated’ with her. The Booker Prize-winning author wrote the sequence in one session. 

Of her lyrics, Hopkins said ‘I never could have imagined that my grief, my guilt, my anger, could have been so elegantly crafted into such beautiful and striking words.’

The timing of this project also coincides with a rise in domestic violence since the start of the pandemic. A report by the United Nations reveals that ‘during COVID-19 lockdowns, many women and girls have been isolated in unsafe environments where they are at heightened risk of experiencing intimate partner violence. Around one third of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner; and 18% have experienced such violence in the past 12 months. In the most extreme cases, violence against women is lethal: globally, an estimated 137 women are killed by their intimate partner or a family member every day.’

Alongside the release of ‘Songs For Murdered Sisters’, Hopkins is also hoping to motivate 10,000 men to take the White Ribbon Pledge, promising ‘never to commit, condone, or remain silent about all forms of gender-based violence’. The White Ribbon campaign is the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity. 

You can watch the trailer for ‘Songs For Murdered Sisters’ below.

If you or someone you know is at risk of domestic abuse, Call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 or through the contact form or live chat service.

Header Image Credit: "Margaret Atwood en la BN" by Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación // CC BY-SA 2.0.


Claire Jenns

Claire Jenns Kickstart Team

English Literature graduate, loves reading, writing and travel.

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