Whitehorse-resident Selina Heyligers-Hare, or as she’s billed in the upcoming Blue Feather Music Festival, Selina H., is only 18 years old. She just graduated from high school. However, she has 13 years of experience making music and can hold her own on a big stage.
When Heyligers-Hare was five years old she started playing the piano. The first band she was in was her mom’s. She used to sit around and sing harmony during their bluegrass practices, until her mom asked her to join.
This was when she was 12. Around that same time Grant Simpson of Frantic Follies asked Heyligers-Hare to be in the show.
“But I was so shy and terrified!” she says. Although today Heyligers-Hare is a leading lady in the show, Simpson started her out as an usher. As she describes it, he took her under his wing.
“He really believed in me,” she says.
When she was 14 years old Simpson organized a Cole Porter tribute show and put Heyligers-Hare on the bill. “There were all these amazing musicians and he just said, ‘Hey, let’s include Selina.’”
She started a four piece band with her friends when she was 13 called Dead Simple, was part of an all-girls a capella group that raised $7,000 for the Because I am a Girl campaign and sold out the Arts Centre before the show even opened.
And this past summer she was adopted by the band Soul Migration, taking on the interim spot as lead singer while theirs was away on his honeymoon.
This is where Heyligers-Hare says she really got to explore the kind of rock and blues music she’s into.
At the Blue Feather Music Festival she’ll be playing all her own original songs, plus one Led Zeppelin cover, “because I wanted to push myself,” she says.
“Classic rock is kinda my thing” says Heyligers-Hare, who lists rock musicians like Ann and Nancy Wilson, Janis Joplin, and Jimi Hendrix among her inspirations. She describes her current music as a blend of rock and pop, “but what I really try to write is rock and blues stuff,” she says.
She also just finished recording her first demo CD with Green Needle Records, which is available for purchase for $5, and features Heyligers-Hare doing all her own vocals, guitar, and keyboard.
Perhaps a glimpse into what Heyligers-Hare’s future could hold is festival headliner Sass Jordan. The Juno-award-winning-undeniable-rock-star of a woman has been making a living as a singer-songwriter for the last 30 years.
Jordan started in her early teens, singing in a park in her Montreal hometown with her friends and a couple acoustic guitars.
Her most recent album, From Dusk ‘til Dawn, is meant to be reminiscent of those early years, where “passersby would stop to listen for a while, as we honed our skills in public,” she says.
“(The album is about) that time of day when things are most uncertain, in a state of potentiality, right before the night manifests, with all its accompanying fear, passion, quiet, loneliness, dread, and dreams… It’s the time we seem to be the most vulnerable emotionally.”
Another act at the festival is Memphis-based Deering & Down, a duo that got their start in Skagway and recorded their first album in Whitehorse in 2001. They are vocalist Lahna Deering and guitarist Neil Down, and their sound is a unique breed of folk/rock/blues.
And then there’s Jimmy D. Lane, a man who practically grew up inside the famed Chicago Chess Records studio. He’s the son of blues legend Jimmy Rogers, who frequently had his good friends Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf over at Lane’s childhood home.
Lane himself is in the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame, and has played with such greats as Eric Clapton, Van Morrison and B.B. King.
Although he didn’t start playing music in earnest until his mid-twenties, he says it was a natural step to take after he left the military. And though he comes from musical greatness, it’s something he never takes for granted.
“I’ve been very fortunate,” he says, “and I appreciate everything I’ve been given.”
Lane’s music is on the side of rock, tempered with “just the right amount” of traditional blues.
“You can have too much water and too much fire,” says Lane, “but with the right amount of both, you can boil an egg.”
The Blue Feather Music Festival runs Friday, November 6th and Saturday, November 7th, with tickets ranging from $20 for kids to $40 for adults, or $70 for a weekend pass.