Northern Daughter was Developed Over Several Years...
When I was a kid, our TV at home had two snowy channels. So I explored the dirt roads instead, leaned my back against trees, and played with the steady stream of instruments my older siblings brought home. With a few short instructions from one of my brothers or sisters, I was plunking, blowing and strumming anything that would make noise. Pretty soon, I was hammering boards together too, building fires, sewing patches into quilts, prepping the canoe for a paddle, planting, growing and canning tomatoes, making strawberry jam, or collecting sap from the maples in the yard. Whatever was going on, I had my hands in it.
That was my life in a big northern family. And this is what they tell me. By age one, I was singing. At 18 months, I started to whistle and play the piano. I picked up my first recorder and Ukulele around age 8. By grade 9, my musical life was a diet of Chopin, Mozart, Bach, Mo Kauffman, The Pointer Sisters, Supertramp, Rush, Boston and Steely Dan. The flute was my next obsession, and boys. When I wasn’t skipping school to hang out with boys, I might've been catching the GO bus to Toronto and hanging out at The Edge, a new age / punk bar at Church and Gerard.
I loved the raw simplicity of the Ramones back then and Blondie's pop edge. My punk-rock boy friend taught me to play the bass part on “Nice and Sleazy” by the Stranglers. Punk was fun and a far cry from my classical piano and singing lessons, the high school choir and private girl’s choir, from the music festivals, the high school bands, musicals, and drama club. In the same way I wandered from genre to genre growing up, I suppose I've become a bit of a wandering minstrel musically.
It wasn't until my late 20s, while studying English and Drama at UWO, that I got involved in community theatre and started playing the guitar and writing songs. The spring I completed my teaching degree, we all faced a long-term hiring freeze. I turned to theatre and music and embarked on the life I feel I was destined to lead. Between substitute teaching gigs, I started writing songs, recording music, and performing.
Life was like a game of snakes and ladders with marriages, divorces, children, and 12 years touring with the award-winning folk band, Sirens. I had wonderful moments onstage with great songwriters and performers like Bruce Cockburn, Valdy, Bruce Guthro, Parachute Club, Fred J. Eaglesmith, Don Ross, Philosopher Kings and Lisa Loeb in Canada, the US, and Scotland. My musical journeys have lead me to mentors, like Bobby McFerrin, who have encouraged the diversity of musical styles in my work.
In the fall of 2005, I embarked on something new. The Northern Daughter project began as a song. It was an auto-bio-fictional account of my life in northern Ontario. It's hard to imagine that Northern Daughter has been in development for 10 years, but it has, and you can read about it here.
With Northern Daughter in development, I returned to the theatre stage, performing with Orchestra London as Nora in their production of Hearts Made Great. In the spring of 2013, I joined the ensemble cast of Colleening: The Poetry and Letters of Colleen Thibaudeau an AlvegoRoot Theatre Company production. A few months later, I performed Pendas Production's one woman show, The Dream Life of Teresa Harris. What a challenge playing all four characters, including Teresa Harris at five stages of her life.
In 2014, when I returned to the script of Northern Daughter, I turned to long-time friend, collaborator and dramaturge Louise Fagan. As Louise and I developed the final script of Northern Daughter through the spring and summer months, I brought Northern Daughter's talented production team on board. The show premiered in October at The Arts Project in London. This is what the audience said.