Bernadette Connors is a local singer/songwriter of notable acclaim. She’s one of the region’s most recognizable talents and she’s in constant demand. She’s playing two shows in the region next week. On Friday, March 25, she’s the featured performer at the Newmarket Craft Beer Winter Festival Microfest at the Newmarket Legion and Saturday night, March 26, she’ll be performing at Tulsi in Stouffville as part of the Wintersong Music Festival.
We caught up with Bernadette recently to talk about her lifelong passion. (this interview has been edited for length).
experienceyorkregion.com: You were born into a family of musicians. What was that like? Do you think you were pre-ordained to be a musician or involved in music in some way?
Bernadette Connors: I have to preface this answer with “I always had a choice.” I wasn’t forced into music, or music lessons (even with a lesson studio in the house!) but I was inspired – all the time – and invited to be included… THAT to me is what formed my love for music.
xyr.com: As a follow up, we’re assuming you were introduced to all instruments. Were you open to all of them or did you gravitate to one in particular? Why?
BC: I had access to ANY instrument I wanted to try. I learned a lot about what inspired me through that. I learned which instruments I could SING AND PLAY with, and which ones didn’t allow for that. Eventually I landed on focusing more on piano, and then guitar as I got older because I didn’t want to carry my keyboard everywhere.xyr.com: When did you write your first song? Was that the final piece of proof you needed to believe that music was the right career path?
BC: I couldn’t give you an exact song or age. This moment stands out in particular – *opens standard school notebook I was using for writing, * places hands on an E minor chord * Sings the melody that was in her head all day “Live or die, the sun will rise another day”.
I look back on that song idea… how aware I was of the fragility of life, and how prevalent the thought was that the world goes on with or without us. It didn’t make me sad, too bad it was hard for people to hear from a child.
And, I still don’t “KNOW” that this is the “RIGHT” career path, I just know I don’t want to do anything else.
xyr.com: How long have you been performing? Any highlights that you instantly recall?
BC: I have been singing in front of audiences since I could remember. I’ve felt a lot of gratification in many ways, from singing at church and in bars to playing Christmas carols in shelters for the homeless. The most humbling experiences have made the biggest impact, for sure.
You’ve recently released a new album. Did you write all the songs on it? What was that process (recording) like?
My new album “Monarch” is a collaborative piece of work. Some songs started with just me and a guitar, others were spawned from connecting with talented people like Stu Weinberg, John-Angus MacDonald, Colin MacDonald, and Chris Kirby. At the end of the day, I admire and respect the latents all of these writers brought to the project, and gained valuable insight into “how to turn a phrase”, and that often being bold with what you want to say makes the best lyrics – usually with the biggest risk. I felt invigorated but the process.
Main photo: Bernadette Connors will be playing two shows in the area next week.
Photo row, from left: Tools of the trade and with her family at the family’s music store.