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Why Heather can’t get enough of Celeigh Cardinal’s new single (check it out here!)

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Watching music at a music conference is a bit like trying to drink from a fire hose. With as many as 50 artists performing in different places at the same time – probably even more at times – a pass-time we usually regard as relaxing and social turns into an intense strategy game. How can you expertly manage your time in order to see EVERYONE you want to check out?

More often than not, the best-laid plans fall apart. Showcases run off schedule. You run into old friends in the elevator, and your 10-minute catch-up conversation leaves you with barely any time to see the rest of the set (most of them are only 20 minutes long). Sometimes you just feel so overwhelmed by it all that you find yourself frozen in the middle of the hallway of the hotel thinking, “Now what do I do?”

It was the latter scenario that led me to discover Celeigh Cardinal at the Folk Alliance International conference in February in Montreal. I first heard about Celeigh when she won the Western Canadian Music Award for Indigenous Artist of the Year, and I’d been impressed by what I’d heard of her music at the time. But I really didn’t know much about her.

But having found myself with some time on my hands around the time she was playing, I headed over to the hotel room she was showcasing in to check her out.

Seldom does a random decision like this prove to be so rewarding.

This woman is, to use an old music industry cliché, “the complete package.” She sings with the soul of a young Aretha Franklin, and man does she have a voice! She is disarmingly personable, self-effacing, and relatable on stage. She is outgoing and fun but also vulnerable – talking openly in story and song about the kinds of life struggles that many people will identify with. And her songs are catchy, soulful little nuggets of raw truth about all the ways we keep getting relationships wrong.

Her latest single, “The Devil is a Blue-Eyed Man,” captures all of these qualities in one sweet platter that will have you belting out the lyrics along with Celeigh while you’re doing the dishes.

In honour of its release, I reached out to Celeigh by email with a few quick questions. Here are her answers:

RMC: Tell me the story behind the new single.

Celeigh: “The Devil is Blue-Eyed Man” is about my own patterns (my type if you will) and recognizing that sometimes what you think you want turns out to be bad for you. And while I wanted to blame him, I should have known better. The Devil MUST be a blue-eyed man (and probably broad-shouldered too) cause he’s really good at tricking ME.

RMC: You have such an incredibly soulful sound. Who were your musical influences growing up?

Celeigh: Oooh. My musicial influences are vast and varied! I love the Beatles, soul and Motown, Bonnie Raitt, the Beastie Boys, Fiona Apple, Etta James, and one of my favorite all time bands is The Band.

RMC: You’re a very personable performer. I felt like I was in your living room when I saw you perform at Folk Alliance. Has performing always come naturally to you?

Celeigh: I started singing on stage at age four – so I’ve had a lot of practice. [I] definitely put in my 10,000 hours over and over again. I used to be shy [and] not talk very much on mic, even in my early 20s. Once I started doing house concerts or listening venues, I started becoming a story-teller too. Sometimes it’s my favorite part of performing. Now, sometimes, I overshare! Anything that brings people into the story and makes them feel connected to the song and me is a great tool. I want everyone to feel the feelings.

RMC: You share a lot of vulnerability in your songs and with your audiences. Is that hard to do?

Celeigh: It’s my safest space. I enjoy being vulnerable on stage. Maybe even more than in real life. It’s the place where I am the best version of myself, sharing my gifts. I want to always be vulnerable there.

Check out Celeigh on stage when she launches her brand new album, May 31 at the CKUA Radio Performance Hall in Edmonton.

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