CORNER BROOK — “This Little Bird” is free to fly again in the United Kingdom.
Allison Crowe released that album in 2006, three years before she was denied access to the United Kingdom — searched, fingerprinted and held for interrogation for hours — and unable to perform the concerts she had scheduled.
Just six months prior to that troublesome time, Crowe continued to capture the hearts of a growing fan base in England and Scotland. However, changes to the immigration rules in those countries put a stop to the years of growth she had accumulated. Despite tours throughout Europe once or twice a year, she has not returned to the United Kingdom since.
The changes in immigration policies, intended to shut out potential illegal immigrants and terrorists, also prevented some short-term visiting artists and academics from entering those countries. It has been a contentious issue, particularly in the arts community, in the United Kingdom in recent years. Subsequent lobbying helped lead to scheduled adjustments recently announced by Immigration Minister Damian Green.
“I’m super excited to be able to go back to the UK because I haven’t been in so long,” Crowe said Wednesday in Corner Brook. “I love playing there, so I think it is going to be really fantastic to go back. I really miss it.
“It will be really nice to see my friends that are there, and be able to go to play in the places I wasn’t able to before they changed it back.”
Crowe said she spent a lot of time in England, Scotland and Ireland, and said she had successful shows in those places. She also said it is inspiring to hear the efforts of the people lobbying for this change in recent years were actually heard and made a difference.
The Corner Brook musician from Nanaimo, B.C. is planning to add gigs in the United Kingdom to her fall European concert tour.
Crowe plays in many smaller cultural venues overseas, enjoying a solid following in such locations as piano and jazz bars or venues in countries like Scotland, England and Ireland. These venues were not registered with the Home Office and were unable to afford to abide by the strict sponsorship regulations put in place. Crowe and her bandmates were unaware of the immigration policy changes in 2009.
In many respects these venues operated much like the career of Crowe, said her manager Adrian du Plessis.
“For an artist such as Allison that has built her entire career on the community, grassroots level, it makes it possible for her to perform again at the acoustic and jazz venues, the smaller cultural halls, that are not part of a big corporate or bureaucratic system,” he said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”
Starting this spring, visiting artists can stay in the United Kingdom up to one month, under a new avenue, called “permitted paid engagements.” It eliminates the fees and regulations in place since November 2008.
Allison Crowe is preparing for another Canadian tour of Tidings.