Do you remember what you were up to in the summer of 1999? Bif Naked will never forget — because that was the year Canada’s queen of punk joined the sisterhood of the travelling festival known as Lilith Fair.
“Being included in Lilith Fair made for such a fantastic summer for me,” recalls the 47-year-old singer-songwriter, actress author and speaker. “I was in between so many tours where I was the only female.”
Not this time. In addition to festival organizer, headline performer and fellow Canadian Sarah McLachlan, Naked was part of the 3rd annual tour with a group that included Sheryl Crow, Dixie Chicks, Indigo Girls, Queen Latifah, Martina McBride, Natalie Merchant, Liz Phair, The Pretenders and Suzanne Vega — to name just a few of the 100-plus artists who took part in the Fair’s third and final tour, which ran from mid-June to the end of August.
“There were so many iconic women on the Lilith Fair tours,” says Bif. “I felt grateful and humbled every single day to be around them, doing the group press conferences each morning and the grand finales on the big stage every night, besides our own shows.”
But the shows were only part of the experience for her.
“For me, Lilith Fair seemed like a movement, not just a tour. It was about equality and all-female talent, and I had never been on a tour like that before. It wasn’t a competition, instead it was a community. It was awesome! Great memories! “
That says plenty, coming from someone who has lived a life as memorable as hers. Since introducing herself the world at large with her self-tifled 1996 debut album, the Indian-born, Manitoba-raised Naked has been an unstoppable force at whatever she turns her hand to, single-handedly transcending obstacles placed in her path to become one of the world’s most unique, recognized and beloved icons.
She’s released nine albums, including the platinum I Bificus (1998), the gold followup Purge (2001), and her post-millennium offerings Superbeautifulmonster (2005) and The Promise (2009). She’s topped charts with singles and videos like Spaceman, I Love Myself Today, Lucky, Moment of Weakness and her most recent outing Hot Box Girls. She’s acted in films like Archangel and The Boys Club, along with TV series like Once a Thief, Cold Squad and The L Word. And of course, she is the author of the best-selling memoir about life, love, loss and triumph, I, Bificus.
It hasn’t been a cakewalk. Along the way, she’s survived breast cancer, kidney failure, heart surgery and divorce. But her creative personality and unstoppable humour have been her weapons of self-defence. She’s a tireless advocate and humanitarian and a dedicated vegan who splits her time between Paris, New Delhi, and her home in Toronto, channelling her captivating creativity beyond her signature sounds into writing, painting, choreography, and other genres of music.
Bif Naked embodies the phrase “lived to tell the tale” and makes for a fascinating interview.