Of all the singer-songwriters trying to make their mark in the world of music, Winnipeg musician Christine Fellows stands out in the best of ways. Not only does she create haunting melodies with her stories contained in the songs, Fellows does not limit herself to solely being a recording artist. Together with visual artists, filmmakers and more, Fellows has proven herself capable of painting with many different brushes, an increasingly rare talent in an industry that tends to eat its own.
Fellows is currently touring her most recent release, a dual French-English effort entitled Femmes de chez nous. Despite Fellows having spent some time in France with her family growing up, speaking the French language was something that she had not done for a long time before making her newest album.
“I had never sung in French and had not really spoken the language since I was in my late teens. And so take into account that I am now in my early 40’s and that is a long time,” a genial Fellows says. “It was an amazing challenge for me and was probably the hardest part of making this record because I really wanted to incorporate it into the record but didn’t quite know how I would manage it.”
As a part of a grant that she had received to make Femmes de chez nous for Saint-Boniface Museum, Fellows birthed the record in an old nun’s convent located in Winnipeg.
“The convent building I was in had a beautiful chapel that had wonderful acoustics. And since a lot of my work is feminist-oriented, it really was the perfect project for me to undertake with the Grey Nuns and the history that was associated with the building.”
Earlier this year, Fellows and her husband John, a member of acclaimed band The Weakerthans, were given the opportunity to be the Dawson City Music Festival Songwriter In Residence for a period of one month. She says that it was an experience unlike anything else she has had the pleasure of living.
“If you think Winnipeg is cold in the winter, it is crazy cold in the Yukon!” she laughs. “My husband and I had bought the big, full deal Canada Goose parkas and I am sure that I didn’t take mine off the whole time we were there.
“In the winter, the community is reduced down to its essential elements and we performed in all of these cool little places including one community that is actually above the Arctic Circle that you can only get to by airplane. Seeing dog sleds going down Main Street, coming out of the ice fog was spooky and beautiful. It was such an amazing experience.”
Despite her obvious knack for tapping into whatever artistic element is asked of her, Fellows jokes that she feels like a bit of an imposter in whatever she happens to take on. Among her future projects is a trip to France where Fellows, along with visual artist Shary Boyle will be participating in a museum exhibit dedicated to the City of Winnipeg. She and Boyle have also been commissioned by the Harbourfront Centre in Toronto to create a performance piece for children, which will premiere in February 2012.
“I am always in a little state of disbelief. I tend to agree to do something and then have no idea how it will turn out in the end,” she laughs.
Article published in May 6, 2011 edition of the Times & Transcript