Grandma’s house was awesome - said almost everyone. I remember watching cable tv after school at my grandparents' with my younger brother when I was first starting to take an active interest in music, navigating back and forth between MuchMusic and MuchMoreMusic for most of the late afternoons. It was '97/'98, I was 10 years old, and I was suddenly aware of developing my own musical tastes, beyond my parents' listening influences. The music industry as we knew it was peaking, and the experience was amazing. I was introduced to Canadian bands like OLP, The Philosopher Kings, Wide Mouth Mason, and The Tragically Hip, and stellar solo artists like Chantal Kreviazuk, Sarah McLachlan, Alanis Morissette, and Jann Arden, among so many others.
A few weeks ago a friend sent me a video of Chantal Kreviazuk performing 'Wayne' live and it was spectacular. It made me think back to those early days seeing and hearing so much music for the first time. The first few times my brother and I saw 'Wayne' and 'Surrounded' we immaturely laughed at them and changed the channel. I don't know why we did it, but we probably didn’t understand them, there wasn't enough flashy 'cool factor’, and neither of us wanted to be caught by the other liking ‘sentimental’ music by a female with a piano and no electric guitars or drums. I soon learned the captivation was underlying.
It was a gradual transition as we little by little found ourselves watching more and more. Fast forward five weeks. Chantal was on our watch setlist, from start to finish, and we were captivated and uncaring as to what genre it was classified, this music so raw and exposed that at first we actually felt uncomfortable with it. All the music we listened to stayed with us to some degree, but I later recognized the sincerity and passion expressed in these brilliantly written songs had me hooked. I've followed Chantal's Kreviazuk’s music ever since.
Sarah McLachlan, another fabulous Canadian artist who's had a mighty career, also dominated the charts through the '90s. 'Building a Mystery' was going strong when I first heard her, but it wasn't until 2004 that I started paying attention. I saw 'Fear' on her Afterglow DVD and I was sold. If you haven't seen it, check it out. Afterglow was flawlessly produced to create a seamless musical journey from start to finish. And Sarah has an amazing band on it that complements every one of her songs, building them up from their perfectly bare frameworks into layers of expression that still feel, powerfully, exposed.
Where Chantal, I think, prides herself on her raw, edgy performances (and wickedly foul mouth in between songs that she’s still trying to censor - someday she’ll be the most entertaining grandmother), Sarah takes a more theatrically staged approach that feels more filtered and contemplated, but they both share a grounded musical honesty that absolutely glows in every performance. Chantal Kreviazuk and Sarah McLachlan are (still) two of my favourite artists, for the limitless passion that goes into their each and every song.
Today, while thinking about International Women's Day, I realized I still hesitate to share some of my musical influences for fear of how some people may judge them, as if I was 10 again. But this day is about tearing down walls and ensuring everyday that women are always fully recognized and credited equally for the impact they've had on our world. So thank you Chantal, Sarah, and the countless other women whose music careers inspired me to pursue my own.
#internationalwomensday #chantalkreviazuk #sarahmclachlan #canadian