Kid’s Album

2013 JUNO Awards… an experience!

What a weekend! I am going to attempt to write about my JUNO experience in order to process the events in my head. So here goes…

After a few months of prep which mainly revolved around what I was going to wear (helped by the kids from a local elementary school) I was all packed into a medium sized suitcase (impressive) and ready to go.

But the gods of planes trains and automobiles were not shining on us as the fog descended on the Comox Valley and no plane could land therefore we couldn’t get out. Panic set in as I had a gig early the next morning and it isn’t good form to miss a JUNO gig. Eventually they bussed us to the next town where, fortunately, the fog had lifted and we were off in time to get our connecting flight to Regina.

Everyone told me that Regina was cold but I wasn’t expecting the kind cold that takes your breath away (and a few digits if you stay outside long enough).

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Friday night was the first of the events,a green carpet walk and a drinks reception with a particularly lovely martini bar and wonderful snacky things wandering around us carried by incredibly lovely police cadets. Here I met two of the other nominees in my category, Jennifer Gasoi and Marlowe Stone from Marlowe and the Mix. I immediately liked both of them. We had already been in contact to sing on each others songs at the gig the next morning. We are a very friendly category 🙂

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On the way back to the hotel Trevor, my husband and date for the weekend, insisted we get sushi. I wasn’t hungry so just went to watch him eat. In an interview with Jo-Ann Roberts of CBC’s All Points West earlier that day she asked me who I would like to meet most and I said Jian Ghomeshi from CBC’s Q. I have sent him my music previously (along with chocolatey bribes) in the hopes of getting noticed by one of Canada’s largest music taste-makers.

As we approach the sushi restaurant who should be waiting to be seated but Jian himself. I walked in and introduced myself and was thrilled that he said “oh, you sent me your album and you’re up for kid’s music award aren’t you”. He remembered me… so the chocolates must have worked! Anyway, he was very lovely and we had a quick chat and went our separate ways to eat.

There were shuttles put on to takes us anywhere we wanted to go, which we were SO grateful for given the minus temperatures and Saturday early morning was no exception as we headed to the Children’s Category nominee gig at the Regina Public Library. All the JUNO staff were so friendly and welcoming and we had a wonderful SOLD OUT show packed with kids and their parents.

I met another nominee, Emilie Mover and we all sang on each others songs and played a song together at the end. Even though all our style were SO different I think we sounded really good together and it was so much fun.

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Saturday afternoon the nerves started kicking in. What if I won? I hadn’t really thought of a speech but had considered who I would thank. What if I didn’t win? Would I cry? So instead I had a nap… the answer to everything 🙂

I chose a little black lacy number for the Gala dinner where many of the awards were being presented, including my category. There was another green carpet (I must google the meaning of green vs red carpet) where the press were gathered so I got to strut my stuff in front of them.

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There were more martinis and pics and then dinner. We were sitting with other nominees including a jazz and a classical musician and we were all sitting upright, hopeful. There were various performances by Colin James, Donny Parenteau (cool fiddler) and the Four Tenors along with a local choir. These were interspersed with awards and hosting by Jian Ghomeshi of the afore-mentioned sushi restaurant encounter.

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We were rooting for each other at the table while trying to eat steaks the size of my head. How do you eat honking great piece of meat while preparing yourself for elation or disappointment? The first on our table didn’t win and the second and the third. There was only me left as the expectant shoulders had gone from upright to slumped.

My award came up and it was a thrill to see my face up on the big screen and my music playing, but before I knew it they were announcing Emilie Mover’s name and my shoulders also slumped.

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But only for a few minutes. Emilie’s album is excellent and she is such a sweet, sweet person so I was really happy for her. It was also nice to have the technology handy to text my friends and get all the feedback that good friends are there for. And after putting it on FB my community in the Comox Valley posted reams of comments that made me feel so loved that I didn’t care that I hadn’t won.

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Sunday was a lazy day of avoiding the biting cold and watching TV and eating the remains of the best sandwich ever. The previous day we had gone into a local deli and when they found out I was a nominee they insisted on having a picture with me and giving us cannoli. It was the best sandwich ever. If you are ever in Regina you must go to family run The Italian Star Deli.

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So red carpet time was upon us and, as I hadn’t won, I decided to stop playing it safe, ditch little black dress #3 and wear a very colourful dress that had been sent to my by Karina a wonderful dress boutique in Brooklyn NY (long story). And I am so glad I did.

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Walking the red carpet was a weird and wonderful experience. It’s all very official with lots of security. You stand in front of a a whole bunch of photographers trying to remember what they do in America’s Next Top Model. It was fun and I played around a bit. You then have to walk the rest of the red carpet with screaming fans who are not sure who they are screaming for until someone like Michael Buble arrives and the screams go to a painful level.

One of my favourite parts (because I am getting older and a little vain) was when an official with a headset ask me who I was and I said I was a nominee. She look at me and said “gosh you don’t look old enough to be a nominee”. Now I am not sure how old ‘not old enough’ is but I’ll take it! 🙂

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Another reception, more alcohol, more meats on sticks and more chatting to fellow nominees and we were heading to the arena for the live televised show. It was a great, well organized show with the highlight, obviously, being KD Lang’s induction into the hall of fame. What a speech an what a voice. I will always remember the ‘inner quirkmeister’ part 🙂

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So more shuttles, which, by the way, is a great way to meet new people, more drinks, more food and we were done. My first JUNO experience.

I have to give a huge shout out to my wonderful date for the weekend, my husband of nearly 21 years, for being patient, gracious and sociable, all the qualities anyone could ever ask for on a weekend such as this. And had I won I would have thanked him, my wonderful children and the community of the Comox Valley. Hopefully I will get the opportunity another time. 🙂

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Search for the Unicorn

Part 1 – Finding the photo

One day I came across a photo being used by a friend as her Facebook profile pic and I knew I had to use it as an album cover. There was something about this cute little fella that I just couldn’t put my finger on, something about the snow and the colour, and I knew that no other unicorn would do. When I find what I like I can’t let it go.

I set about trying to find the owner of the picture so that I could ask permission to use it. I asked my friend where she got the photo but all she could remember was that it was from some site with ‘fuckyeahunicorn’ in the url. I lost many hours searching this and so many other variations of the unicorn and expletives. But nothing…. not even close.

I was starting to get obsessed and knew it was time for a different strategy. Someone must have made that unicorn so I started searching for knitted unicorns (oh how I LOVE the internet). I searched Etsy and bay and a whole load of home-made sites. But nothing. I started searching random unicorn images and scrolled through thousands of pictures of, mostly, unicorns… although there are some very suspect images under the heading ‘unicorn’… hmmm. Weird.

Finally I found a tiny image of a green unicorn that had very similar flowers which HAD to be made by the same person. The title under it was cozycoleman.com. I had found it it… woohooo. Feeling very excited (I lead a sheltered life) I clicked on the link and in the flash of a screen I got this

But Cozy Coleman HAD to exist. I had to find them. I revisited Etsy… the home of the knitted items and other home-made treasures. I typed the name into the search bar and… it gave me TWO Cozy Colemans. None sold knitted unicorns so I messaged the first and got a lovely message back telling me ‘sorry… I have never knitted unicorns… good luck’.

The second Cozy Coleman had to be the one or I knew that this was going to be the end of the line. So I emailed and crossed my fingers.

Part 2 – Finding the unicorn

Within minutes I got an email telling me that ‘YES’ she was indeed the Cozy Coleman that knitted the unicorns and we started a dialogue where I asked her if she knew who took the photo that I had found. She was great and asked all the people that she had sold the unicorns to. After a few days of possible leads the trail went cold.

Cozy Coleman turned out to be Sharon Coleman and I asked her if she still had any of the unicorns that she could sell me so I could try to re-create the photo (did I mention that I am obsessive?). She did but only in green and pink. Something was telling me that it had to be the blue.

Then she suggested that if I found a 100% pure wool sweater in the colour I wanted and sent it to her, she could felt the sweater and make one for me. Yay!!!

So I hit the thrift stores and found 2 sweaters that I thought would work and sent them to her. Did I mention that Sharon Coleman is the greatest? 🙂

A few weeks later I had 2 beautiful unicorns and just before all the snow on our local mountain had melted.

Part 3 – Shooting the unicorn

Karen McKinnon is a wonderful local photographer who is responsible for most of the photos you see of me so, over a social breakfast one morning, I asked if she would come up to the mountain and photograph my unicorn in the snow. Not her usual sort of job, but she is always up for some fun so we headed up one afternoon to shoot the unicorn…. which was the source of many many jokes… a little sad, I know.

We found a spot on the bunny slopes at Mount Washington where the snow was still good and the trees were far enough in the distance to blur out (or some other photographic technical term). I put the unicorn into position while Karen got comfortable lying in the snow and the shooting (tee hee) began. The unicorn was a little temperamental but we got the shot and headed back down to spruce him (or her, we’re not sure) up a bit.

Part 4 – The cover

Originally this was going to be for my LA album but that all changed when the album was finished and the image didn’t match the sound. But when I decided to release a kid’s album, the unicorn was the perfect photo for the cover.

Stacy from Psoma Design Group was the designer for my LA album (out next year) and she did such an amazing job that I asked her to turn my unicorn into a CD cover for this kid’s album. We had so much fun with all the iterations and I really like the finished product… especially all the extra sparkles 🙂

When it came down to naming the album I realized that I wanted a title with unicorn in it. It would seem odd not to. But I had no song with that in the title. So a week before sending the songs to be mastered I wrote and recorded a new song called ‘Always Be A Unicorn’, using the sentiment in those Facebook posts going around that say “Always be yourself, but if you can be a unicorn (substitute batmen etc), then always be a unicorn.” It seemed to really suit the cover and the feel of the album in general.

“Always Be A Unicorn” is out on October 24th, when I will a guest on CBC All Points West with Jo-Ann Roberts.

Click here for pre-order special.