Home Feature Concert review: Catherine MacLellan – March 26 at Hugh’s Room Live,...

Concert review: Catherine MacLellan – March 26 at Hugh’s Room Live, Toronto

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On March 26, Prince Edward Island-based, multi-award-winning singer-songwriter Catherine MacLellan took the stage at Hugh’s Room in Toronto in front of a near-capacity crowd.

She was accompanied by the very talented Nick Gauthier on guitar, who also provided some beautiful harmonies along the way.

I should take a moment to list a few of the awards Catherine has won, such as a Juno Award for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year in 2015, an East Coast Music Award for Folk Recording of the Year in 2012, and other ECMAs for Female Solo Recording of the Year and Folk Recording of the Year in 2010.

As well, she won Canadian Folk Music Awards in both 2012 and 2009.

Catherine is a very seasoned performer with a lovely voice and amazing song-writing chops that draw on a range of personal experiences including friendship, advice to her daughter, mental health challenges, forgiveness, and the passage of time.

Most striking about her performance is the way she engages her audience and their response to her.

Her story-telling and introductions to each song are almost worth the price of admission on their own.

One also got the impression that many in attendance were very familiar with her work and came to enjoy an experience with Catherine’s music they had enjoyed in the past.

In other words, there were lots of nodding heads and smiles as each song began.

A particular delight was when she began the opening notes of “Snowbird,” a song famously written by her father, Gene MacLellan.

As she pointed out, in 1971 it was the most played song in the world.

As an aside about the venue, Hugh’s Room Executive Director Michael Booth typically asks the audience before each show how many have been there before.

In this case about half indicated they have not been, which bodes well for building an audience over time and speaks to the strength of performers like Catherine MacLellan, who have a strong built-in audience.

All in all, a lovely night and exactly what those of us who love singer-songwriters are looking for: a beautifully presented small window into the joys and challenges faced by another human being, albeit a very talented human being.

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