Today’s find is Canadian songwriter and composer Kurt Swinghammer’s tribute to Russian astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to fly in space.  Swinghammer has written a gorgeous tribute to Tereshkova in Falling Star. It’s got rich tonality with strong echoes of David Bowie in it, and reminds us that Ms. Tereshkova is a real flesh and blood human being, and not just an icon or a name in the history books. This song is but one of the cuts from the album Vostok 6,  an elaborate concept album all about Terechkova which was first released in 2000.

We find this hauntingly beautiful, and all the more poignant in that it’s about a real person, and a real hero of space exploration.

About Kurt Swinghammer

Kurt Swinghammer has established a unique presence on the Toronto arts scene as a singer/songwriter, session musician, composer for Film & TV, illustrator, designer and visual artist. In the mid 80’s he started to release his home recordings on a series of low edition cassettes. In 1986 he produced the first cassette by Ron Sexsmith titled There’s A Way, and has since co-written and toured with the celebrated artist. Kurt’s first CD, PoMo A GoGo came out in 1991, and landed him the cover of NOW Magazine. His follow up was an experimental, instrumental collaboration with Andy Stochansky called Remote. In 2000 he independently released VOSTOK 6. The album was re-released internationally on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records, and Swinghammer opened several of her tours in the US. His follow up in 2002 was Black Eyed Sue, a song cycle about a relationship set in current day Toronto. In 2004 he was asked to record songs live for a CBC broadcast, and these were released as the solo acoustic CD Augusta,  named for the street he lived on for 13 years in Kensington Market.

About Valentina Tereshkova

Valentina Tereshkova was selected to join the female cosmonaut corps on 16 February 1962, from a field of more than four hundred applicants. Only five were selected: Tatyana Kuznetsova, Irina Solovyova, Zhanna Yorkina, Valentina Ponomaryova, and Tereshkova. Some of the qualifications included that they be parachutists under 30 years of age, under 170 cm (5 feet 7 inches) tall, and under 70 kg (154 lbs.) in weight.

Before her recruitment as a cosmonaut, Tereshkova was a textile factory assembly worker and an amateur skydiver. After the dissolution of the first group of female cosmonauts in 1969, she became a prominent member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, holding various political offices. She remained politically active following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and she is still thought of as a heroine in post-Soviet Russia.

In 2013 she offered to go on a one-way trip to Mars if the opportunity ever arose. At the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics she was a flag-carrier of the Olympic flag.

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