Singing with Daniel Lavoie was awesome!

A friend recently wrote me a message after listening to the song Sing Me Home. He shared with me that he listened to this song with tears in his eyes as he sat on the floor of his living room. It was the nostalgic feel of the song, he said, that moved him to tears. The melody reminded him of the beauty of the Saskatchewan prairies. 

I don’t know if it is the sunsets or something in the air that makes the prairies special... but either way, the horizon seems to hold the hearts of all those that have lived under the prairie skies. I even think this nostalgic feeling might be one of the reasons why Daniel Lavoie accepted to sing Sing Me Home with me as a duo. (Along with the fact that he thinks “the song is beautiful”!) 

I met Daniel when I was involved in a show in Winnipeg in 2010. Daniel was the artistic director. He is also a good friend of Marc Perusse (my producer). So when I had the idea sing a duo on the album, the choice of who to ask was obvious. 

Daniel came to the studio in Montreal one day with a 6 pack of Stella. I remember thinking to myself, “OMG! It’s Daniel Lavoie!...okay Alexis, be chill”. Two seconds later I thought to myself: “OMG Daniel Lavoie drinks Stella! Okay, mental note”. 

Once I got over being starstruck, we went over the song together, checked the harmonies and Daniel sang his parts. After that, we kicked back and shared the beers he had brought. It was awesome! 

Daniel has a great sense of humour and is so generous and creative. I had such a good time working with him. 

I don’t know if it is the snow that just fell or the end of December that is around the corner, but Sing Me Home has me thinking about the magic of this time of year - the magic of celebrations, reunions and happy nostalgia that comes when we’re home together with friends and family. 

This is what I wish for you too -  all these good things and more during the holiday season!

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Buy Sing Me Home here: 

iTunes: http://smarturl.it/AN_iTunes 
Bandcamp: http://smarturl.it/AN_Bandcamp 
Spotify: http://smarturl.it/AN_Spotify 
 

Nouvelle Scène Gala - Artistic Direction

From June 8 to 12, I had the great pleasure to provide the artistic direction for Le Gala Nouvelle Scène in Regina. This is a week of training for new Franco-Saskatchewan artists, at the end of which the participants perform on-stage. The gala winner will represent Saskatchewan at Chant'Ouest (an interprovincial event) to try for their chance to represent the West at the Festival international de la chanson de Granby in 2016. So I had two main components to manage during the week: teaching participants and putting on the show.

Regarding the teaching, I was very fortunate to work with a great team: Giselle Lemire (lyrics, performance, managing stage fright, etc.), Christie-Anne Blondeau (vocal technique), Michel Lalonde (music industry) and Gent Laird (arrangements and musical director). We managed to establish a working environment in which participants feel comfortable opening up ... but really. We helped each participant to build personal connections with their songs, to create an authentic subtext that supports their performance ... and, from there, we saw them flourish. Using music as the thread tying the lyrics together, they embroidered a musical universe that was all their own. It was so awesome - in the true sense of the word. I was in awe of them the night of the show.

Vincent Turgeon, a journalist from CBC-SK that had followed us throughout the week, created some great portraits of the participants: Stephen Fletcher, Pascale Marceau-Koziki, Daniel Lelbanc and the duo Ferré et Fontaine. They have talent, they are open, generous, curious and so awesome ... Discover them here: http://ici.radio-canada.ca/regions/saskatchewan/2015/06/11/011-apprendre-chanson-participants-nouvelle-scene.shtml

On the concert side of things, I wanted to focus on the words / lyrics / poetry and wanted to find a visual treatment for the stage with lots of texture. I chose the theme: tailors of lyrics. To make the theme obvious, I wanted to literally have thread decorating the stage ... so I used almost 10,000 feet of cotton string to do it!

The whole thing cost me less than $200 in materials, but more than 20 hours of creation and installation! I have to give a HUGE shout-out to Daniel Petit - the lighting designer who believed in the concept and gave generously of his time and energy to help me achieve what I imagined in my head. The result was even more beautiful in real life.

Also thank you to Aurélie Labriere, the coordinator of the Franco-Saskatchewan Cultural Council and Audrey, her trainee whose help with the instillation was indispensable.

While the week exhausted me, I’m coming away so enriched. I feel like I learned even more than the participants: I was reminded that by communicating our love / appreciation / encouragement, we build confidence; I learned the importance of leaving room for people to grow; and, when done with love, I can push the participants (and push myself) even further than I thought. All to stimulate a more fulfilling and meaningful growth.

And we all accompanied each other through these many learning experiences. This is the pearl at the centre of it all!

An Empty Room - Webseries

Two weeks ago, Creative City Centre (CCC) invited me to spend a morning at their premises to shoot videos of some of my new songs. In collaboration with CCC and CBC-Radio SK, the project is Brent Nielson’s idea - a sound engineer who has just retired after working at CBC for 30 years. The aim of the initiative is to discover the music of Saskatchewan singer-songwriters, stripped down in an empty auditorium. The audio is broadcast during the morning show on CBC in Regina.

It’s a paradox: the intimacy of an empty room. However, the result is strong - a great way to discover the songs and artists, some of which I discovered for the first time (including Megan Nash and Keiffer McLean, among others).

I've shot two songs. The first tune is the result of collaboration with Mathieu Lippé (who wrote the lyrics).

Videography, editing and audio Brent Nielson.