Feist needs little introduction to Canadian audiences, having become a star both independently and as a founding member of the indie rock collective Broken Social Scene. She won the prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2012 and has a whopping 10 JUNO Awards to her credit.
The Nova Scotia-born Leslie Feist grew up in Calgary, where she got her start singing in youth choirs and performed as one of 1,000 dancers in the opening ceremonies of the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988 at the age of 12 (an experience she has cited as inspiration for the video 1,2,3,4). At the age of 15, she founded and became the lead vocalist for a Calgary-based punk band called Placebo.
Among her many other claims to fame, Feist boasts the second-most-watched video in Sesame Street history.
Lord Huron’s founder, Ben Schneider, was born and raised in Michigan, drawing musical inspiration – and a band name – from the Great Lakes.
Now based in Los Angeles, Schneider wrote and recorded two independent EPs – Into the Sun and Mighty – on his own before recruiting a group of childhood friends, who had played together at age 12, to play in his band. Lord Huron signed with IAMSOUND, and the label released 2012’s Lonesome Dreams, and Strange Trails in 2015. Strange Trails included the hit song The Night We Met, which was featured in the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
The release of the band’s latest album, Vide Noir, is a partnership between Whispering Pines and Republic Records. It has earned critical attention for what’s been described as “eerie modern folk-pop with morbid fairtytale flair.” SPIN describes Schneider as “an ambitious songwriter blessed (possibly cursed) with a hooky madcap pop appeal.”
For music fans in the Lower Mainland, Dan Mangan is a hometown favourite. The singer-songwriter, who makes his home in Vancouver with his wife and two children, is a much-lauded performer and recording artist who released his fifth album, More or Less, in 2018.
Mangan – who, by the way, is a UBC grad - has two JUNO Awards to his credit: for Alternative Album of the Year and for New Artist of the Year, both in 2012. He’s also been shortlisted for the prestigious Polaris Music Prize.
Mangan also works as a composer, having scored TV series for Netflix and AMC and also a feature film (Hector and the Search for Happiness, starring Simon Pegg).
The versatile Mangan is also a writer, who has contributed to such publications as The Guardian, Huffington Post Canada and Montecristo Magazine, and the co-founder of Side Door, an online platform that connects hosts with artists for intimate performances in unique spaces.
THE WAR AND TREATY
There’s no doubt that one of the most compelling stories onstage at the festival belongs to this husband-and-wife duo of Michael Trotter and Tanya (Blount) Trotter.
Their paths to music are very different: Tanya discovered her knack for performing early in life, growing up in a tight-knit community just outside of Washington, D.C., and set herself on the path to a musical career by winning a talent show at the age of 13. Among her solo successes was an appearance in the movie Sister Act 2, where she dueted with Lauryn Hill.
Michael spent part of his childhood in Cleveland before moving with his mother, brother and sister to Washington, D.C., where the family spent time in and out of homeless shelters. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2003 and was sent to Iraq. There, stationed in the rubble of one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces, Michael had access to a piano that had escaped the destruction. A captain heard him and encouraged Michael to pursue music; when the captain was killed, Michael sat down to write a tribute for him. Officers noticed that tribute and gave Michael a new role: to write and perform songs for the fallen.
When he returned home, Michael was booked into a festival that also featured Tanya – a meeting that would lead to their marriage and to their successful musical partnership. Every track on their latest release, Healing Tide, was written by Michael. (Fun fact: One track, Here Is Where the Loving Is At, features a cameo from American country star Emmylou Harris.)
When he first picked up the guitar and sat down to play the piano at the age of nine, Prince couldn’t have predicted just where those instruments would take him. The singer-songwriter, who was raised on the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba, cites his preacher and musician father as one of his biggest inspirations. He also counts such artists as Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Charley Pride, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson as influences.
Prince won Aboriginal Artist of the Year at the 2016 Western Canadian Music Awards and Contemporary Roots Album of the Year at the 2017 JUNO Awards.
His success hasn’t gone unnoticed: his album, Earthly Days, is now being released worldwide by Glassnote Records.
Earlier this year, Prince earned acclaim from the L.A. Times for delivering “one of the most captivating performances” at the 2019 Stagecoach Country Music Festival.
What happens when an Israeli guitarist with a passion for American blues and funk travels to Memphis to compete in the prestigious International Blues Challenge – and meets a soulful young singer who’d gotten her start singing in church?
Well, if said soulful singer happens to have a talented drummer for a sister, and the three are joined by a versatile keyboardist who’s an early alumnus of Stax Record’s music academy, then you have yourself a group called Southern Avenue – a young and rising powerhouse in the world of blues.
Those musicians – guitarist Ori Naftaly, singer Tierinii Jakcson, drummer Tikyra Jackson and keyboardist Jeremy Powell – took their name from the Memphis street that played home to fabled Stax Records, a studio that was influential in the creation of Southern and Memphis soul music.
Their self-titled debut album with Stax was honoured with a Blues Music Award for Best Emerging Artist Album. Their newest offering, Keep On, continues their tradition of creating new music to carry the soul tradition into the 21st century.
(Information above was drawn from artist websites and from www.burnabybluesfestival.com.)