Cityview : Scene Scribe – Bonne Finken

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At age 28, singer Bonne Finken has weathered challenges. A survivor of cervical cancer, Finken is a single mother raising her 9-year-old son while working a full-time job in the insurance industry and finally playing in a band, the Collective, which performs her own music, after singing other people’s songs in cover bands like Final Mix and the 3 AM Band. Add the pressure of having left her apartment 14 months ago to live with family and friends so she could use the rent money she saved to pay for her new album, “Soul on Display,” and you might think the burden would be too much to bear for Finken. Instead, it has strengthened her resolve.

“When I had cancer, it changed the way I looked at things. Now there’s this urgency,” Finken said. “I thought I could make it as a musician and everyone said, ‘Do it.’ So I went for it.”

The result is an album’s worth of nine original R&B, pop, rock and Hip-Hop songs of empowerment [plus one cover, “Do Right Woman”]; a contract with Des Moines-based Authentic Records; a handful of out-of-state gigs with The Nadas (owners of Authentic Records) — including a performance in March at the South By Southwest Music Conference in Austin; and the satisfaction of doing things her own way.

“I’ve been through hard things and I’ve seen people struggle, but I’ve learned you can do it,” Finken said. “That’s the underlying theme of my record. Sometimes I sing it to be kind and other times I sing it out of frustration.”

Nearly three years ago, Finken was a frustrated songwriter. She was playing in a cover band that wouldn’t perform her songs, making her doubt her ability to write them; she turned down the chance to participate in the reality television show “Rock Star: Supernova” only to find herself singing in a local disco band that also wouldn’t perform her songs; and then she got an offer from another local label/studio to sign a contract, but she wasn’t convinced musically it was the right move.

“Then a light bulb went off in my head and I thought, ‘If I’m good enough of a performer to be on ‘Rock Star’ and good enough of a songwriter to have people want to pay me to make my record, maybe I’m good enough to do this on my own,’” Finken said.

An ad on Craigslist looking for musicians to start her own band netted a suggestion from The Nadas’ Jon Locker, who told Finken to visit the Sonic Factory, a Des Moines recording studio used by some of the pop acts on Authentic Records. It was the beginning of a musical and business relationship with Locker that ultimately landed Finken on Authentic Records.

“When I met Locker, I knew I wanted to use him in the studio,” she said, adding that The Nadas’ bassist sometimes fills in with the Collective, which includes keyboardist Josh Schryber, bassist Jamie Mahan and new drummer Adam Ross. “But I also knew I wouldn’t have enough money to record there unless I moved out and saved money on my rent.”

Now that the record has been released, Finken said she is looking to rent a home in Knoxville where her son’s father lives, to ease her son’s schedule. She also hopes to hit the road more in 2009 to support her new album.

“The making of this album has brought me and my son closer together,” Finken said. “He is my world and why I do everything. And I think he got to see something different in me about why I sing than he did before.”

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