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Chris MacLean
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2010 Nominee Canadian Folk Music Awards, English Songwriter of the Year
2008 Colleen Peterson Award for Songwriting
2008 Songs from the Heart Award for Best Historical Song
2007 CHIN Radio annual World Music Songwriting Award

Take a walk down a dirt road. Listen to the creek spilling a long winter’s melt. Paddle ahead of an oncoming storm in a small canoe. This will give you some idea of what inspires singer songwriter Chris MacLean. A consummate explorer, Chris adeptly stretches herself across a wide musical spectrum from traditional and contemporary folk to jazz and world music.

Chris has been busy in the six years since she released her last solo recording, Feet Be Still, which garnered the Colleen Peterson Award for Songwriting from the Ontario Arts Council, a nomination for English Songwriter of the Year from the Canadian Folk Music Awards and Folk Music Ontario’s, Songs From the Heart Award for Best Historical Song. In addition to physically building herself a charming new home from the ground up, Chris also set sail on a transformative emotional journey that would ultimately reinvent her life.

The 14 songs on her new CD — Procrastinator — speak to these years, reflecting on life's curveballs, her seven-month sojourn in South Africa, and her mother's final months. She explains:

 “The songs on Procrastinator are a collage, inspired by the travels and transformations in my life over the past six years. Things fall apart. People and landscapes change. Life is full of mystery. Petals, crushed under foot, later blossom out of hard packed mud. Every living being comes from darkness into light and each metamorphosis in life retraces that original journey. We are constantly unfolding and unfurling. These 14 original songs are born from the imprint of home and away. They speak of loss and hope and breathe from chaos, flow and calm. They trace the crooked lines bordering love, leaving and redemption. I believe that they reflect a certain well-earned, burgeoning wisdom.”

Raised on the outskirts of Peterborough, Ontario, Chris grew up in a tight-knit family, surrounded by music. Compulsory piano lessons and classical music formed a foundation until jazz, folk and rock ‘n roll were introduced by her older siblings. At the same time, Chris was quietly exploring the woods and fields behind her home, usually accompanied by one of the family’s beloved black Labs. Sights and sounds of the Canadian backwoods, like windswept pines and lapping water, are deeply etched into her psyche from the formative years she spent at summer camp and cottages.

Summer camp also planted the seeds that would inspire Chris to become a performing songwriter. It was through her camp counselor that a young 12-year-old Chris met the musical duo Nigel Russell and Stan Rogers who were booking and performing at Trent University’s student pub. Chris became their frequentsidekick, tagging along with them to concerts where she met many of the legendary artists of the day, including Jerry Jeff Walker, Bruce Cockburn and Murray McLaughlin.

In her 20+ years as a professional musician, Chris has played a diverse mix of musical styles including Bluegrass and Ole’ Time, Folk/Roots, and Indo-Canadian World Music. She has performed in trios, in quartets, and as a solo performer with and without backing musicians. Several times, she has toured across Canada and outside the country both solo and in groups. Her most recent grant from the Canada Council for the Arts for the recording of Procrastinator is one of many she has been awarded through the years. Chris works as a (qualifying) Voice Movement Therapy practitioner, a voice teacher, a choir leader(with the Ottawa Folklore Centre) and a graphic artist. She has two grown children and four young grandchildren. She lives just outside of Wakefield, Quebec

 

Chris Portrait

Photo: R. Muise