St. Lawrence Stage bright with stars at opening concert

During an earlier interview, St. Lawrence Acoustic Stage board president, Sandra Whitworth, could only speak in superlatives when she described the performers who will kick off the 2012-13 concert year at the Stage on Saturday evening, September 15.

“Jadea Kelly has a pristine voice,” she said, “absolutely clear as a bell. And Catherine MacLellan is an established, versatile performer with a dark, husky voice. The two will be a dynamic singer/songwriter combination on the stage.”

These artists have shared venues before; this concert should be an exhilarating start to the new season at the St. Lawrence Stage.

“Jadea and I met through a mutual friend, David Baxter, and I asked her to come in on my album, Silhouette,” MacClellan said. “She did some background harmonizing for me, and she was just incredible. Since then we’ve branched into concerts together, often singing on the same bill.”

“I did sing backups with Catherine,” Jadea Kelly said. “She’s become a good friend, and we’ve worked together now for about two years. Our styles and voices complement each other. I admire her song writing and her wonderful way with words.”

Catherine MacClellan comes from a very musical family (her father, Gene MacClellan, was a renowned performer,  and composer of many songs, including Anne Murray’s mega hit ‘Snow Bird’). “I grew up hearing a lot of folk music. I remember listening to everything, even,” she laughed, “some really bad 80’s pop music. But what I remember most is how strong an influence my dad was for me. I’d watch him writing and I found it inspirational.”

The love of performance, and the love of writing are dominant forces in this artist’s life. 

“I started writing, I think, to express myself, my feelings and emotions. I was always very shy, and music became an outlet for coping with life’s issues, like when I lost my dad at age 14. It is a challenge to sing full time, and I don’t always like the life on the road, but the playing itself is wonderful. Music is simply part of me.”

MacClellan’s Dark Dream Midnight came out in 2004, Church Bell Blues in 2006-7, and Water in the Ground in 2009. Her current album Silhouette, was launched in 2011, and is garnering a lot of attention from both fans and critics. Nominated for a number of prestigious awards, she was named solo artist of the year in 2009 by the Canadian Folk Music Awards, and number one Roots Artist on iTunes Canada.

Still, MacLellan doesn’t care to be pigeon-holed into a particular musical style. 

“My taste is eclectic. I love 60’s folk, but also old country and blues, and currently Indian music. I pull from all those sounds when I sing and write. I don’t have pre-conceived ideas. I let the emotions and the feelings I am currently experiencing determine my music. There are definitely themes of love and relationships, interactions between people in my music.

I’m not sure I’ve made the record of my dreams just yet. There’s always another hill ahead, something new to accomplish.”

She is looking forward to the St. Lawrence Stage, and performing with Jadea. “It’s going to be fun. It always is.”

Like Catherine, Jadea Kelly was surrounded by music growing up. “I sang before I talked,” she said. “Music is a strong, almost therapeutic, part of my life. I love it. There is no alternative path in this world for me. Singing is what I am meant to do.”

Kelly’s sound has been described as folk/country, but “that is somewhat in the past. People say there’s always been a little bit of ache in my words. However, my style is undergoing change just now, with darker undertones to it. There are some new rock influences, and I think I might describe my emerging style (laughing) as creepy country.”

Also a prolific song-writer, Kelly, who spent time in the country growing up, says her songs often “bridge the divide between working on a farm and being a musician. And I am very much in love right now,” she laughed, “and that is definitely spilling over into my writing and my music. Of course, there are writing dry spells, but ideas and inspirations can come to you at any time. I have post it notes all over my place ready for those ideas.”

She has recently spent two years touring her album Eastbound Platform (2009) in North America and Europe, and is developing Clover. She, too, is looking forward to Morrisburg. “I hope Catherine and I get to sing a little harmony on the stage at some point. Like her, I just love making music.”

Tickets for the Catherine MacClellan, Jadea Kelly concert Saturday, September 15, at the Meeting Centre, are $20 in advance, and $25 at the door. Contact the Basket Case, Strung Out Guitars, or go on line at www.st.lawrencestage.com.

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