Former PHS Mental Health Worker Allison Russell is nominated in three Grammy Awards categories at the April awards show.

The Canadian singer is nominated for Best American Roots Music Performance, Best American Roots Music Song and Best Americana Album for her hugely acclaimed solo debut Outside Child.

In late January, Allison received two UK music industry awards. The Americana Music Association UK named her International Artist of the Year, and Outside Child the International Album of the Year.

“There are a lot of us at PHS who are incredibly happy about one of this year’s multi-Grammy nominees,” said PHS Director of Housing Tanya Fader, who worked alongside Allison and became friends.

“Not only does Allison Russell’s debut solo album Outside Child poignantly express experiences of trauma from abuse, exclusion, displacement and racism faced by so many of our community members, it also powerfully portrays the beauty and recognition of the resilience found in survival – found in love.”

The 64th annual Grammy Awards show will be broadcast live on April 3 – many PHS staff will be watching.

Resilience, joy & love

There will be tears! Allison is a truly wonderful person who sings of resilience and joy and love.

Allison told NPR: “This is not a record about trauma. It’s a record about art and community and chosen family.

“Music was the thing that made the unbearable voices of self-hatred that had been so deeply instilled within me stop.

“And we all need to hear that it gets better. That’s why I realized I had to tell my own story.

“These traumas that we carry forward, they don’t totally disappear. But when we can talk about them and sing about them and reduce them to a manageable size, then we can grow around them.”

Allison was a PHS Mental Health Worker from 2001 to 2009, working with community in the Downtown Eastside.

Although Outside Child is for her first solo album, Allison has had a storied musical career, performing and recording as a member of the music groups Po’ Girl (2003 – 2010), Birds of Chicago (2012 – 2018) and Our Native Daughters (2018 – 2019).

Kindness in action

Tanya said: “Some of our staff and residents were lucky enough to share in her kindness in action when she worked for PHS as a Mental Health Worker and the comfort and joy she brought to residents at Christmas time with carol singalongs in our buildings.

“A massive heartfelt congratulations to Alli! You are forever part of our family and we are so very proud of you.”

UPDATE: On March 1, Allison Russell was nominated for two Juno Awards, the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys. She’s competing in two categories: contemporary roots album of the year and songwriter of the year. CBC described Outside Child as a “feast of genius” when reporting the nomination. The item continues: “Many of the songs on Outside Child reflect on intense trauma, healing as a work in progress, and joy as a means of survival, while the music itself is all about warmth, momentum, and a blend of soulful Americana and folk-pop. Russell’s extraordinary voice models the strength in vulnerability, and it’s thrilling to witness an artist’s ongoing transformation in this way. It’s part of what makes this record so intimate and empowering.”