Singer-songwriter Marianne Girard brings wealth of experience and influences in music to Dawson Creek

The artist, who hails from southern Ontario, said she is very excited to be on her current tour as she has never been to northern British Columbia before.

“This is quite an adventure,” she said. “The people are what make it happen and make it worthwhile. Northern people are very different too – there’s a big heart and a big soul to northern people, I find.”

She said she has already had correspondence from fans in Dawson Creek through Facebook, and is looking forward to her performance on Wednesday.

“I’m really looking forward to it, I feel like you’re already used to me. It feels like I’m connected already.”

Girard describes her style as a mix of roots, folk and country that is influenced by both traditional and contemporary styles. She said she has been compared to artists such as Emmylou Harris or Mary Chapin Carpenter. However, she said her songwriting is much more a product of her environment, drawing inspiration from stories she hears on the road or even comments she hears from audience members.

Girard said she always had a passion for singing growing up, which propelled her to join her school’s choir at a young age. She also credits her older brother, who played guitar and encouraged her to perform with him, for that passion.

However, she said the her songwriting didn’t really solidify for her until she left home and travelled around the United States, including a stay near Nashville, in the 1970s.

“That was specifically to really establish a basis as a writer, and so I went someplace new where no one knew me,” she said. “I had never done anything like that so I didn’t know what to expect, but it was absolutely necessary.”

Also necessary, however, she said was her decision to step away from performing music in the early 1990s so that she could look after her young children. She returned to Ontario and went back to school to earn a degree in expressive art therapy, which allowed her to work in schools and in her community to develop programs that used art to help children in need.  

“I had worked with a lot of different people, but it ended up there was a need in my community for kids who were in need of extra guidance. Kids are very expressive and in-the-moment, so the arts are a perfect way for them to expressive themselves and try to work their lives out.”

Girard said she really thought she would never return to the music business, but once her children had grown up and left home, she started being encouraged to perform again, especially by a friend of hers who owned a venue in Toronto.

 “He had an open stage in Toronto called ‘Norm’s Living Room,’ and I finally drove down one Sunday and went to his open stage. I had so many old friends there from the music industry from years before, and it just seemed that was it, that was the thing I was supposed to do, was to come back to music. I had been avoiding it, and it seemed really evident that I couldn’t avoid it anymore, because this is what I do, is where my heart is.”

Her music career has included tours across North America and Europe, and in 2010, a nomination as Best Contemporary Singer at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

Girard said despite the music industry being a tough way to earn living that takes her far away from home and is also physically demanding, she doesn’t at all regret her decision to return to music.

She said for her performance in Dawson Creek, she will be playing songs from her latest album, 2009’s “Pirate Days,” as well as songs from her two previous albums and some new, as-yet-unrecorded songs. She said her audience can expect a relaxed and interactive experience with a variety of songs weaved in throughout the night.

“I have some deep songs and some fun songs. I try to have a good variety in the night,” she said.

Tickets to her performance, which starts at the Art Gallery at 7:30 p.m., are $20 each at the door. Girard will also be performing in Chetwynd on Thursday.  

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