The Montreal Jazz Festival, despite its title does not limit itself to jazz music. Every year, there is always a big variety in the performing artists at this event. This year a Montreal born and raised artist with a powerful voice graced one of its stages. Her name is Marie-Christine and she isn’t new to the Jazz Fest but it was the first time she had the chance to be in the spotlight.
Marie-Christine has been quite lucky these past few years. After landing a part in “Generation Motown” and then touring with DJ Champion, she got Corey Hart’s attention in 2002 when he was looking for a launching artist for his label, Siena Records. She released her debut full-length “Walk in Beauty” in 2011 after years of hard work.
CONFRONT:When did you realize this was what you wanted to do?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: It was always a fantasy from a very young age. When I started listening to the radio and there was Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey, I always thought it would be really cool if I could be a singer one day. I never thought it would happen.
CONFRONT: And since you grew up in such a music-oriented family, was there ever any other choice?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: My parents didn’t want me to study in music. It was more of a hobby for them. I studied in actuarial math for a year and I realized that music was what I wanted to do. Most of the time, I wouldn’t even listen in the class. After that first year, I had the opportunity to audition for a musical called “Generation Motown” and the last day I had to cancel my classes and get my tuition money back was the day I got the part. That was a sign.
CONFRONT: Wow! It was really great timing! And that musical, what do you think it brought you as an artist?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: A lot of experience. I learned how to act, I learned how to dance and sing at the same time. It was very challenging because a lot of times, you have to change the wig, change the outfit, change the mic so it was a very complete sort of experience. And I got the chance to work with so many artists that had a lot of experience also so I learned a lot from them.
CONFRONT: And did you go back and study music after that?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: It was just before. I did 14 years of classic piano and then I stopped when I started university. It was just too much; I was working, I had that and I started singing.
CONFRONT: You’re playing Jazzfest this year, are you excited?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Very excited!
CONFRONT: Were you a big Jazzfest go-er?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: For sure! I couldn’t wait for festival season in general! You can’t be bored in Montreal in the summertime. I was always at the Jazzfest and I sometimes I performed as a backup singer. This time, apparently it’s my turn to go onstage!
CONFRONT: It is! And for people who may not have heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Soulful music. There’s not one particular type of sound because I have so many different styles on the album. There’s soul-red which is a little more pop and soul-blue that is a little more retro and organic. So the main category for me would be soul because it’s music that comes from the soul and it tries to touch the soul of the other person.
CONFRONT: You kind of answered my next question which was to describe your sound in one word. I think we know which word that is!
CONFRONT: And which song do you think represents the overall sound?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: That’s tough,I don’t think I can do that. It’s just too varied.
CONFRONT: Well that’s actually great though because a listener won’t feel like they’re listening to the same thing over and over throughout your album.
MARIE-CHRISTINE: There you go. That’s what we’re trying to go for. It can touch different types of people from different ages and categories.
CONFRONT: And speaking of your sound, your debut album came out last year, how was that experience for you?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Another dream come true! I keep getting different dreams realized in the last year. I couldn’t imagine that one day, I would have my own album and doing my own music. I have an amazing band that I get to share the stage with so I feel very lucky.
CONFRONT: Is it the same people who play with you live and who record your album with you?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Not necessarily. It really depends on what we need for a song. Doing a song in the studio and doing it live is two different things because I don’t use a computer on stage. In the studio, you can do a lot of stuff with different sounds and computers but I use a very organic sound onstage so it really depends.
CONFRONT: As long as you’re able to adapt your sound onstage.
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Yeah we try to do that as much as we can. The songs that we think wouldn’t sound good with the band, we just don’t do.
CONFRONT: And you got to work with so many different people, some that others dream about meeting. Who influenced you the most?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Stevie Wonder. Because of technology today, I didn’t get to meet him but we did communicate through the internet and everything. It was a wonderful experience because I grew up listening to his music and I sung his music a lot in my career. It was just another dream! To have him on the same track as me was just amazing.
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I haven’t gone on tour yet. I’ve done shows here and there but I’m dreaming about a tour with my band because they’re amazing; they deserve to play and they put on a good show. I hate to say that because I’m not one to brag but my band is amazing and they’re so talented and nice. They’re just a blend of different things.
CONFRONT: Well if it’s true, you can just say it! There’s a difference between saying something because you’re proud and saying something to brag.
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I guess! I’m really saying it because it comes from the heart.
CONFRONT: And is touring in your near future plans?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I have no clue. Right now, I’m actually in writing mode so maybe it will be for the next album. But this summer, I have a couple of shows here and there but I really want to focus on writing.
CONFRONT: Ok! And which direction is your sound headed towards?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I don’t know yet. I know that right now, I’m a bit less shy in what I say in the songs. I’m revealing a little bit more about myself so that will be kind of fun and nerve-wracking at the same time. Sound-wise, I think I got to know myself a little more with this album and having the experience of recording a first album will pay off for the second album. I’ll be able to be myself a little more on the second album so it’s something to look forward to.
CONFRONT: And what are some of your influences lyrically?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I never really thought of that. I just write. I have this book where I write all kinds of thoughts; sometimes it will be a verse, sometimes it will be two phrases or an idea or an image. And sometimes, I’ll reopen the book and an idea that I wrote even months or years before, will pop back into my mind and inspire me. So I don’t think I’m consciously influenced by anything in particular.
CONFRONT: And let’s talk about your latest single a little bit, why did you choose that one?
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I thought it would be a good spring/summer song that people could dance to and have a good time. And it means a lot to me because it talks about where I come from, where my parents come from so I really believe in the song and I really enjoy it. I’ve noticed when I do shows that a lot of people like the song. There’s a particular reaction to that song; people will get together and dance to the song and I don’t know, there’s something special about it. And totally unrelated to that, I wanted to go to Haiti this year and I made that dream come true, yet another dream!
CONFRONT: You just keep checking them off your list!
MARIE-CHRISTINE: Exactly! So yeah, when I booked my ticket, I thought about how I could bind this trip to the song that talks about Haiti. So we shot the video at Port-au-Prince and at the same time, I visited my roots and my family.
CONFRONT: Now, I’m going to ask you my last question which is to draw something that represents you!
MARIE-CHRISTINE: I’m a terrible art person! I drew the sun because there’s passion in me and the sun represents passion and life, without it there’s nothing and there’s no hope. I also drew water because I like to go with the flow and it also represents life because without water, there is nothing. So there you go!
If you want to hear some of her songs or see what’s happening with her, check out these links:
Official Site: http://mariechristinemusic.com/
**Marie-Christine’s drawing will be up on the website shortly.**