Kiefer Sutherland – The Power of Artistic Expression

Envision life without art; no paintings, no literature, no theater, no movies, and no music. Sounds like a pretty bleak place, right? Shaping culture since the dawn of time, art is as much of importance to past, present, and future generations as anything in established society. Born to Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, two successful actors, Kiefer Sutherland was surrounded by artistic inspiration throughout his entire childhood. Motivated to follow in his parents footsteps, by the age of eighteen years old, Kiefer Sutherland was already acting in full-length feature films and well on his way to success.

Columbia Pictures
Warner Bros.

Coming up in the early ’80s, when Hollywood was booming with young talented actors including Matthew Broderick and Sutherland’s roommate of three years, Robert Downey Jr., he too would soon become a star. A diverse actor, often associated with a rough bad boy exterior, his first taste of critical acclaim was for his leading role in the 1985 film The Bay Boy. Only at the beginning, he would go on to have very important roles in such decade defining films including 1986’s Stand By Me, 1987’s The Lost Boys, and 1988’s Young Guns.

Now over three decades into his career Sutherland continues to be one of the biggest names in film and television following the massively successful eight season run of Fox’s 24 series. With such an impressive career, one would think that the actor would be completely satisfied with his resume, but a new side of Sutherland emerged in early 2016 when news began to surface that he would be releasing an album. First offering a sample of his brand of music to fans with “Not Enough Whiskey,” Sutherland turned a lot of heads. A compelling discovery for many, it ends up Sutherland’s talents run deeper than just acting ability and his love for music is perhaps strongest of all. Reflecting on what music means to him, he says, Music is probably, as an art form; and trust me I like painting, poetry, theater, but music is probably the one thing I can identify most.

Proudly standing by that statement, Sutherland spent a great deal of 2016 letting the public into his world of music. Much different than acting on stage, or in film, music cuts closer to the bone and leaves the creator vulnerable. Well aware of the risk, Sutherland confesses the songs he writes are the closest thing he has ever had to a diary or journal. Drawing from his own personal experiences, he lays it all out on the table with his Jude Cole produced debut album, Down In A Hole.

Although, an interest in music is not something new for Sutherland as previously mentioned. Drawing inspiration from music since a young boy, he went on to say, Music is something that could transport me quicker than any other thing.” A feeling many can relate with, everyone more than likely associates a song or an album with a specific event in their life. For Sutherland, he confesses, If I heard a specific David Bowie song, I, all of a sudden, remember when I was 15 in a mall trying to ask a girl out. If I listen to Aerosmith, I remember my brother when I was about 7 or 8 years old. For whatever reason, music has been something that is really kinetic for me.” So how does that relate to his own music? Well, looking at the eleven tracks that make up Down In A Hole, each of them is an honest account of moments in his life, moments vividly painted in Country Rock styling. From the storytelling approach of opening track “Can’t Stay Away” to the love ballad “I’ll Do Anything,” the album covers a broad range of emotion. 


Releasing Down In A Hole back on August 19, 2016 via co-owned label Ironworks, the music is no doubt an unfiltered reflection on Sutherland’s life. Highlighting the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, each song is dressed with everything from regret to hope. Facing his past with open eyes, Sutherland, like anyone, is trying to navigate through life. Thankfully, through it all, he has had music to help him find light in the dark. He adds, “It has been a huge inspiration. It is the one thing that kind of motivates my brain to start thinking on a creative level.” 

Something he has leaned on as a safe place throughout his extensive career in acting, Sutherland has even used music as a tool to get him in character for a part. Reflecting on such, he said, I remember doing The Glass Menagerie long before there was an iPod or anything like that. I would make a CD where there were 5 or 6 songs I would listen to over and over before the performance. 

Photo credit: Beth Elliott

Touring across North America with his band, going coast to coast and even visiting his homeland of Canada, Sutherland had quite a busy year in 2016. Putting a lot of time and passion into it all, Sutherland has not slowed down on the acting side of the equation either. Immortalized on the Hollywood Walk of Fame since 2008, attaining the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Zurich Film Festival in 2015, Sutherland takes none of his accomplishments for granted. Still giving it his all after all these years, he was thrust into the spotlight with his latest ABC series, Designated Survivor, which premiered back on September 21, 2016. Portraying the role of President Thomas “Tom” Kirkman; an independent former Secretary of Housing, Urban Development, and designated survivor, he is sworn in as President of the United States following an unprecedented attack on the President and all members of his Cabinet.   


Currently on mid-season break, with the tenth episode airing on December 14, 2016, Designated Survivor is scheduled to return on March 8, 2017 with another eleven episodes slated for the remainder of Season One. In the meantime, Sutherland is gearing up for a few more live concerts in 2017, with the first planned for January 28th at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Excited for the future, and still regarding music as eternal inspiration, Sutherland states, It is an art form that can get me in a frame of mind better than anything else.” True for so many people, that is why we live, that is why we keep pushing forward, and that is why we listen to artists who dare to create, like Kiefer Sutherland.

2017 Tour Dates:
Jan 28 Ann Arbor Folk Festival Ann Arbor, MI
Feb 18 Bear’s Den at Seneca Casino Niagara Falls, NY
Apr 30 Stagecoach Festival Indio, CA

For more on Kiefer Sutherland: | Facebook | Twitter

Purchase Down In A Hole:

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