I just spent the most awesome week on vacation in St. John's, Newfoundland – cue 'Welcome to the Rock' from the musical Come From Away! The theme that swept over me during this trip was the importance of family in one's musical development. Music is such a huge part of the culture here in NFLD (lots of Irish and Scottish influence), and it's so wonderful to witness!
I remember when I was applying to music schools years ago, they often asked about other musicians in the family. I thought it was a bit odd at the time and potentially discriminatory, but I think I understand a bit better now. Support comes from family, and in so many instances, it is needed to develop an artist and to nurture artistic talent. I see that so plainly now. Music is a hard career, regardless of the type that you pursue.
Growing up, my parents were singers. I remember my mom telling me that when I was a baby, Mom and Dad used to take me to church choir practice. At times, the choir director would have to stop rehearsal because I'd be cooing along with them. 🙂 In addition to my parents, I had a strong bond with my Grampie; he used to sing, play guitar and act. We used to sing duets in music festival and I remember being in awe of him as I watched him perform in Gilbert and Sullivan productions in Tatamagouche, NS when I would visit as a child. Mom used to cart me around everywhere, take me to music festivals and help me practice. When I was in junior high and high school, I had one big music day where I'd pack in piano lessons, singing lessons and choir all into one evening (Tuesday!) since I had to travel to Fredericton for them. I wouldn't have been able to do anything without the support of my parents, particularly Mom. I sang at Grampie's funeral when I was in my teens…. One of the hardest things I've ever done. I still tear up when I sing Amazing Grace. I know he's still looking over me and I often feel his presence, especially when I'm performing or teaching.
Ok, so my trip – what happened to inspire me to write this post? The first night I got to hang out with my Mom's family and I heard all about my nephew's musical and artistic adventures. It was wonderful to see my Aunt light up when she talked about him, and to see lots of pics and videos. 🙂 Then I got to meet some of my Dad's side of the family, most of whom I'd never met before! And what did we do? Told stories, ate delicious food and then I played and sang with the girls, who are very musical! It was so fun to share that with them. 🙂 My cousin took videos so we could share with my parents and I was overflowing with happiness for the opportunity. I wish they were closer so I could continue making music with them!
Wednesday evening we went to the George Street Festival and saw Blue Rodeo – so much fun! I had a great time meeting new friends, seeing many familiar faces from Ottawa who call NFLD home, and rocking out with a beer or two.
We also went whale and puffin watching one day and it was glorious – the sun shone, tour guides sang to us and blasted music in the boat as we ventured out to find the puffins and whales. It was so awesome! We saw no less than about 24 whales and thousands of puffins and sea birds. 🙂
Last night, we hung out with my friend Miranda's friends and their kids, ate garlic fingers, and drank pineapple crush (only in NFLD)! 🙂 It was fun, and the kids were so cute. They even put on a little show for us, dressing up and singing hot cross buns with accompaniment on the ukulele. We also had a dance party in the living room, and I taught them how to do the 'shopping cart'. 😀 Then they gave us a speech, saying they hoped we enjoyed our visit and that they'd miss us. Aww! So sweet. It is true that Newfoundlanders are the nicest people ever, I have never felt so at home in my life! 🙂 I'm looking forward to coming back already, next time with my parents!
Last thing, while not musical related, it was music too my ears…. Err tastebuds. I had the best drink ever – a caesar topped with a lobster claw! While caesars normally come with something fun, like a pickled bean, stalk of celery or occasional umbrella, this was on a new level. It was good enough that we went back…. twice. 😀
As I sit here at the airport (cell service out across the country and thankful for free Wi-Fi), I catch up on social media and see my singing friends posts from Sicily and Tuscany. I'm reminded of last summer and the pain I processed, my voice not working at times, wondering what my life would look like moving forward. It was scary and made me grow in ways I've never thought possible. Thank God I had music last summer and friends, family and mentors who were patient with me as I sorted my life out. I'm so grateful! Music has helped me heal, forgive, form bonds with new friends and family, and ultimately find myself. I'm looking forward to jumping back into more of my own singing when I return from holidays in a week.
But first, I'm off to NS and NB to see more family! Signing off from the ROCK with love,