Blues singer brings a touch of Memphis to Morinville
Suzie Vinnick honing her well-travelled talent in blues hotbed
By: Anna Borowiecki
| Posted: Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 06:00 am
Thursday, Feb. 14 at 5:30 p.m.
Morinville Community Cultural Centre
9502 – 100 Ave.
Tickets: $50/adults; $45/seniors, students. Includes cocktails
Call 780-420-1757 or purchase online at www.tixonthesquare.ca
It’s plus 25 degrees Celsius and blues singer Suzie Vinnick is down in Memphis competing in the solo category at the International Blues Challenge.
“The humidity is so thick you could cut it with a knife. It rained and I even heard we had small tornadoes touching down,” says a cheery Vinnick in between competition events.
The Saskatchewan born singer-songwriter is busy, busy, busy catching flights from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to far-flung places when not promoting her latest 2012 release Live at Bluesville.
All the heavy slogging she’s done over the years has paid off in spades. On Jan. 21, Vinnick was the recipient of two 2012 Canadian Maple Blues Awards for acoustic act and female vocalist of the year.
And last August, when the Toronto Blues Society hosted auditions for the International Blues Challenge, Vinnick soared to new heights winning a berth at the competition.
“Performing in Memphis is really a good opportunity. It’s a long shot to win. You’re up against amazing talent from around the world. But you get to make connections, meet other musicians, singers, songwriters and industry people you might not ordinarily meet. You get more face time out there. More people get to know you. It can’t help but be a good long-term investment, and if you win, it’s the icing on the cake.”
Vinnick is arriving in Alberta this weekend for a mini-tour of the province and she has arranged a Valentine’s gig at Morinville Community Cultural Centre on Thursday, Feb. 14.
Really, singing the blues on Valentine’s Day?
“I’m going to lean on the positive side. It won’t get all heavy and romantic. I’ll celebrate the good things about life – partners, family, friends,” chuckles Vinnick.
In a quick recap of her early life, the Saskatchewan born musician started playing guitar at nine. By the time she was 15, she was performing professionally and when she hit the golden 21-year mark, she left for Ottawa to make her fame and fortune.
“As a kid, I’d always gravitated towards music, but I didn’t think I’d do it for a living. My parents always supported my lessons and I was in band concerts. When I got the chance to play for money, I didn’t think twice. I just gravitated towards it. It was as if an invisible thread had passed through me and was pulling in that direction.”
Although Vinnick has made a decent living at music, paid her monthly bills and enjoyed the luxury of steering her own ship, she’s worked hard at the craft.
“Early in 2000, I was in five different bands. You had to diversify to make it feasible. I’ve come to believe that anyone entering the arts needs to have skill diversity. The more skills you have under your cap, the more it helps to serve you and the more doors that open for you.”
Vinnick, who is both a singer-songwriter and a guitarist-bassist, credits those multiple skills for getting her to Memphis. In fact, she’s visited the birthplace of blues on several occasions, always strolling down Beale Street. The 2.9 kilometre-long historical landmark is where the Memphis greats played and sang – iconic voices such as Louis Armstrong, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, Howlin’ Wolf and Sleepy John Estes.
Although she’s become a hardy veteran of the road, Vinnick is still completely in awe of Memphis icons.
“There’s such history here,” she says. “It’s alongside all the people I listened to in my teens and 20s and I get to share the same stages. There’s an energy to it and I feel so grateful to be competing down here.”
Before returning to Canada’s frozen north, Vinnick plans a short pilgrimage down the Mississippi Delta to check out the juke joints – maybe pick up more blues inspiration that oozes in every corner.
Anyone interested in following Vinnick’s competition results can visit her Facebook page. She’s also posted song samplers on www.suzievinnickmusic.com.