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Life experiences shape the art we create. This is my story.
I grew up in Brantford, Ontario, in a strong and fun-loving family. I was loved and felt loved.
At 18 months, I was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Not knowing how badly the disease would progress, doctors advised keeping me active. I enjoyed swimming, softball, skating, and Highland dance. To exercise my fingers, I began piano lessons before I turned five and could read music before I could read books.
I began voice lessons as a teenager. Finding success in music competitions and comfort in playing for hours most nights, I decided music would be my career—I couldn’t think of anything else I’d like to do. After two years at Wilfrid Laurier University, studying arias, lieder, and chansons, I quit. That style wasn’t for me. I also felt isolated and hadn’t made any new friends there.
Married at 23, I lacked a career path. I continued to feel down and realized that I was struggling with depression. I gained weight, too.
My husband and I moved to Boston in 2001 where I applied to Berklee College of Music—and was accepted! Having only studied classical music before, I didn’t know what a chart or a lead sheet was. They placed me as a beginner, but there I was at the very best school for contemporary music. It was exhilarating. I had wonderful teachers. But my fears, self-doubt and anxieties prevented me from taking full advantage of all the opportunities Berklee had to offer.
We moved to Montreal in 2004 and two years later we were blessed with a son. Motherhood was amazing! And hard! Soon after our son was born we were ready to give him a sibling… but we’ve never conceived again. Only recently have I learned the proper terminology: Secondary Infertility.
My infertility has been a consistent cause of distress for me. I’ve continued to struggle with that condition, my weight, and self-worth. For almost ten years I taught music privately but never performed or wrote any songs, because I lacked the confidence.
In my mid-thirties, my mother was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH). For nearly seven years my father cared for her 24/7. My sister and I helped, along with some Personal Service Workers whose assistance was indispensable.
It was my mom’s disease, however, that led me to pursue music again. Life was passing quickly and time was running out. I sought out local musicians in my new small-town home of Alexandria and found lots of people making beautiful art of all kinds! I began performing ragtime, joined a local Big Band, then a jazz band, formed a trio of my own, started performing solo gigs, and just put myself out there. As difficult as it can be for women to start or restart careers after raising a family, I resolved that it’s never too late to chase my dreams.
– To my wonderment, I had enough original songs written by 2017 to record an entire album!
– In Normand Glaude I found a co-producer and sound engineer who understood me and my creative vision.
– I received an Artist Development Grant from FACTOR.
Basic tracks were laid in September 2018, song arrangements were prepared, and we were ready to start recording. Then, in October, my mom died. We had to reschedule sessions for laying down piano, bass, and drums. Returning to the studio by December, we completed Spare Skirt in May 2019.
In my songwriting, I want my lyrics—informed by my own life experiences—to speak you and to your experiences.
FIREFLY gives expression to the way infertility has affected me, but I hope it speaks to other peoples’ feelings of loss, missed opportunities, and unrealized dreams.
In HERE WE ARE I attempt to accept what life has thrown at me and be happy with where I’m at. I think its message is relatable to anyone who has lived long enough to discover the gap between their expectations and their reality.
I’M HERE reminds me that no matter where I am my mom is always with me, but it’s written to remind everyone that we’re never truly alone in this world.
I’ve been blessed with many wonderful opportunities, advantages, and relationships in life, but I still struggle with depression, fears, self-doubt, body image, and infertility. I’m not sharing my story to say “woe is me”—although on many days all I want to do is stay curled up on the sofa. But I refuse to let that indentation on the couch cushion be the only impression I make! So I’ll keep on singing.
All I want to do is sing.