ATHABASCA – A new season is here, and alongside the changing leaves and back to school buzz, the Heartwood Folk Club is debuting their fall season of shows, including true Canadian talent Tina Hartt.
Hartt, a Montreal-born vocalist who’s lived and worked all over the country, will be in town Sept. 29 for a 7 p.m. show at the Nancy Appleby Theatre. Performing for the first time in Athabasca, Hartt said she’s excited to share her own take on a classical genre with the help of acclaimed pianist Konrad Pluta.
“I love communicating, and for me performance is all about connection,” said Hartt in a Sept. 12 interview. “I’m coming in with some French songs, some English songs …. I want to show who I am, and what I do.”
Hartt’s musical journey started early in an anglophone family in Montreal. Growing up with two parents who didn’t speak French gave her and her sister an opportunity to have “an incredible freedom.” That freedom eventually grew into her performances, which Hartt said are more of a cabaret than anything else.
“We used to read the cereal boxes, which are in French and English, and while they’re similar, we found that difference fascinating,” said Hartt. “Now, in my writing, I find that I’m taking things that they say in French, and I’m remarking on why I’m moved by it, and why it’s special.”
Another favourite of Hartt’s is singing the same song twice, once in French and once in English, to highlight the differences between the two — anyone familiar with the French version of “O Canada” knows that the French version is a fundamentally different piece. While it carries the same tune, the references and sayings are distinct.
“I find French is easier to sing than English; English has so many consonants, while French tends to roll through them,” said the singer. “The lyrics in French are more intense, and almost spicy.”
Hartt used an upcoming piece from her performance “Ottoman” as an example, where the English version talks metaphorically about falling leaves, and the French version is more direct.
“It’s all ambiguous, and it points in the same direction at the end, but the French version is more in your face, and more about that personal connection. There’s this Latin feel in a lot of my songs, and it’s for that same reason; there’s a whole sensuality in that language.”
English speakers will be in good hands during the performance; despite her professed love for the French language, Hartt says that she tailors her performances to the audience.
“I definitely cater to what’s happening, if I’m singing to an audience, I always try to blend the two so no one is left out. My first language is communication.”
Tickets for the performances are available at Value Drug Mart, Whispering Hills Fuel, and Athabasca Health Foods. Advance tickets are $30, door tickets are $35, and a season ticket for all four shows costs $100.
After Hartt, Ray Bonneville will play Oct. 14, followed by Jake Vaadeland and the Sturgeon River Boys Nov. 2, and Crystal Plamondon will conclude the season Nov. 14.