She even sang as an infant in her cradle, her mother once said.
An overwhelming passion for music has never left artist Lynn Miles in a performance career that has spanned 40 years. Instead, it has taken her from her home town of Sweetsburg, Quebec, to the major stages of North America and Europe. It has won her numerous music awards and honours as well as critical accolades. It has ensured her a devoted and growing fan base.
On February 25, the extraordinarily talented Lynn Miles will return to the St. Lawrence Stage, the Morrisburg Meeting Centre, for one concert only at 7 p.m.
“Lynn is an artist that some people regard as one of Canada’s best singer/ song-writers,” said St. Lawrence Board member, Sandra Whitworth. “She came to us in 2008, and the audience reaction then prompted us to bring her back this year. It will be a great show.”
I had the chance to talk to Miles about her music, her career and her concert here in Morrisburg.
“I kind of think my professional career was actually decided for me,” Miles said. “I was simply passionate about music. It still remains the chief love of my life. Over my career I have written some 600 songs, and I still feel that there is lots of music in me.
But if ever the music stops,” she added, “I think so will I.”
An accomplished performer on guitar, piano, and harmonica, her rich voice classically trained, Miles has seven albums to her credit and averages over 100 concerts a year. (She’s just back from Europe.) Her 2001 album, Unravel, won the 2003 Juno award for Best Roots and Traditional album. Her most recent CD, Fall for Beauty, was nominated for a Juno in 2011, and did win her the prestigious English song writer of the year at the Canadian Folk Music awards. With time spent in Nashville, she has also been described as a country artist. She is currently working on volume 3 of her Black Flowers Project.
“I see myself as a singer/song-writer, and to me that means I can make any music I want,” she said. “Others can interpret my music the way they want (I sometimes call it roots), but I find inspiration for my writing everywhere. I find it in the people I meet and in my family. I am a voracious reader; I wander art galleries; I listen to other artists. They all inspire my songs.”
Some critics have commented on the “gritty honesty” of her songs, on their deep, hard “sincerity.”
“I do write about life’s problems and issues,” Miles said. “I write of things like addiction, heartache, the challenges out there. But I also believe that the one rule of an artist is to take something unattractive or challenging or dark and turn it into a kind of beauty, finding a way to touch people in the process. Many things find their way into my music.”
The power and poetry of her lyrics have always been inspiring.
I asked her about writing.
“My first rule is that there are no rules in music and writing. You must be open to what happens around you and willing to go in unfamiliar directions,” Miles said. “Each song is an experience. Some take half an hour to write; some cannot be finished in 10 years. You have to let the music simmer, then come out when it’s ready. Of course,” she added with a ready laugh, “all my pieces are my babies. And even if they prove to be ugly babies, I still love them very much.”
Miles will hold a song-writing workshop in Morrisburg on Saturday afternoon, just before her evening concert. It is capped at 20 registrants and is nearly full.
Lynn Miles is looking forward to her February 25 St. Lawrence Stage concert where she will be accompanied on stage by Keith Glass of Prairie Oysters.
“It’s a great stage and always a great audience. It will be a fantastic time,” she said.
Tickets are $15 in advance or $18 at the door. They are available at www.st-lawrencestage.com or 613-543-2514, at the Basket Case in Morrisburg or Strung Out Guitars in Cornwall.