For Chris, learning new ways to use voice as a means for expression is an ongoing, life-long journey.

Community Choir Leader 
& Circle Singing Facilitator

Chris is a 2015 graduate of the Community Choir Leadership Training in Victoria, BC and has been leading The Song Kitchen Choir in Wakefield, QC and in Ottawa, ON ever since.  The Song Kitchen is part of the Ubuntu Choirs Network.

With renowned vocalist and teacher, Rhiannon, Chris completed the 2018 All the Way In vocal improvisation master-class.

Chris facilitates Circle Singing,  as learned from Bobby McFerrin, Rhiannon and a faculty of world-class improvisational singers, at summer workshops at the Omega Institute in New York.  

Voice Movement Therapy Practitioner

Chris completed her experiential training in South Africa in February 2013 and qualified to become a full professional member of the International Association of Voice Movement Therapy in October 2016. She co-facilitated with her mentor, Barclay McMillan, starting in 2014 and assumed leadership of his program,  LifeSong, upon his retirement in 2019.  

I am deeply indebted to these talented and generous teachers and mentors:     

Siobhan Robinsong and Denis Donnelly (Community Choir Leadership Training)     
Anne Brownell, Christine Isherwood, and Barclay McMillan (Voice Movement Therapy)     
Rhiannon and Laurel Murphy (Vocal Improvisation) and Bobby McFerrin (Circle Singing)
Amanda Mabro (Vocal technique and performance)

photo: Franziska Heinze

At the Festival au Desert in Northern Mali, 2005

  • 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. " Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen

A consummate explorer, Chris adeptly stretches herself across a wide musical spectrum from traditional and contemporary folk to jazz and world music.   

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 frequent sidekick, 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.  

Chris' sophomore solo recording, Feet Be Still, 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 the years following Feet Be Still, Chris built herself a charming new home from the ground up, and set sail on a transformative emotional journey that would ultimately reinvent her life. The 14 songs on her third CD — Procrastinator — speak to these years, reflecting on life's curve-balls, 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.”    

In her 30 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. She is currently one of The Paugan Dames, an acoustic trio based in Wakefield QC. 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 has two grown children and four young grandchildren. She lives just outside of Wakefield, Quebec.

Photo: Jody Goodwin