MORRISBURG – “This is an intensely personal album for me,” said singer/songwriter, Isabelle Delage. “The music in this album reveals who I am.”
On Saturday, March 10, at 7:30 p.m., Isabelle will be launching her new CD, Songs from My Little Couch, at St. James Anglican Church, Morrisburg. It promises to be an evening of impressive, often moving music, “a labour of love, a project of love for me, my friends and family.”
In her home studio in Morrisburg, amidst musical instruments and recordings, a guitar near to hand, Delage discussed her music and her new release.
She originally did some of her composing seated on a comfortable little couch, the same one which became the title ‘inspiration’ for her CD.
“I am definitely a folk singer,” she explained. “I am drawn to songs that tell a story, and songs where you can hear and take in the words being sung. I want to weave a story in my songs.”
Songs from My Little Couch, Delage’s second album, (her first album was Inundation, released in 2006) “continues where Inundation left off: life, love, relationships, children.
We are told to write about what we know. In this album I explore the reality of my life now. I write about the kids being gone. In my songs, I write about the difficulties of a parent disappearing into Alzheimer’s.”
She described particularly the power of music in making connections, even with a loved one who is no longer able to recognize you.
“I would bring my guitar to my mother’s bedside, and communicate with her, in a fashion, through my music. She and the other patients listened, perked up, came to life. Sometimes my mom would even join me in the songs we’d sung in my childhood.”
Deep emotions underlie several of the songs in Delage’s new CD, particularly the track “Four Strong Hands” (which she will be singing with Morrisburg’s Sam Moss on Saturday) and the uplifting “Rise Above” (which will be backed Saturday by members of the Seaway Valley Singers where Isabelle is a member.)
It can come as no surprise that music was, and is, an ongoing passion in Delage’s life.
She was raised in a musical household where her father was an amateur opera singer, and all the children took piano lessons.
“I’m probably the one who went the furthest in music, but as a teenager I announced no more piano, I want to play guitar. That did not go over well,” she laughed.
She began writing her own music after going to the Yellow Door in Montreal, a ‘hole in the wall’ lounge, but one where all the big names in folk music performed.
“Sunday night was hootenanny night, a time for budding singer/songwriters to perform, and I got the chance to try my original works out in front of an audience,” Isabelle said.
A folk artist was born.
However, her connections to classical music over the years have also been very strong.
“All of my children took music and two performed with the West Island Youth Symphony. I was connected to that orchestra for 10 years, and served as the president of the Symphony for five years, taking the orchestra twice to Europe for concerts.”
From that connection, Delage went on to the board of the Provincial Organization of Youth Orchestras.
She was instrumental in bringing the Youth Symphony to Morrisburg in 2017 and 2018 where it played to packed houses.
“There is a discipline that music instills,” she explained, “that becomes useful in so many aspects of life. Young people learn to play and also to function as part of a powerful group.”
When she and her husband were looking for somewhere to move in 2014, they fell in love with the St. Lawrence river, and the history of this area, particularly the Lost Villages.
“Inundation”, written from a poem by her husband, grew out of her fascination with this region.
The very popular Tilted Steeple Productions here in Morrisburg, which Delage helped found, seemed the natural place for her launch party. (The Quebec launch of Songs from My Little Couch will take place at the Side Door, Montreal, on March 9.)
“I am very excited about this launch,” she said. “Creating an album is a time intensive process, and you really never feel satisfied,” she laughed, “but you do have to let it go at some point.”
Appearing on the album with her in back-up instrumentation and vocals are Jim Collette, Mick Perreaux, Val Teodori and Leigh Redding, and a chorus from the Seaway Valley Singers.
The launch of Songs from My Little Couch is in Morrisburg, Saturday, March 10, begins at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $10 each at the door (no advance sales) with all proceeds going to the Tilted Steeple Coffee House’s Refugee Sponsorship Fund.