Chantal Kreviazuk's songs of life
Chantale Rivard , Photos by Cline
Listening to Chantal Kreviazukâ??s music is always, for me, an inspiring experience so intense that I can easily lose track of time. While writing this article, I am listening to her 2002 album What If It All Means Something. She has a unique giftâ??a divine voice.
Listening to Chantal Kreviazuk’s music is always, for me, an inspiring experience so intense that I can easily lose track of time. While writing this article, I am listening to her 2002 album What If It All Means Something. She has a unique gift–a divine voice.
The poetry in her songs is a journey for the soul. Listeners can relate to her lyrics and find a little bit of their own truths in each song. Chantal Kreviazuk is considered one of Canada’s best singer-songwriters today. Her luminous presence and enchanting voice make her an accomplished artist, but she is also a great humanitarian.
Hearing More than Music
Born in Winnipeg in 1974, Chantal Kreviazuk is a classically trained pianist, and although music always had a special place in her heart, a dramatic event served to make her aware of what she really wanted to do with her life. In 1994 she was involved in a car accident that left her with a broken leg and shattered jaw. Recuperation was difficult, but it was during that time that she sat down and wrote what became her first album, Under These Rocks and Stones. This accident was life changing, giving her the opportunity to sit down and write songs. But, as she told me, she was always very aware of health issues and the suffering of those around her.
“When I was a child, there were certain things that happened to me and my family that made me aware of others,” explains Chantal. “I can remember my grandmother having a stroke when I was very little and going to the hospital [to]. Then my uncle was in a motorcycle accident and had to go into a long-term care hospital, where he lived for seven years before he died. So I just had a heightened awareness, from when I was small, about people who were suffering. I can remember when I was in school we would raise money for [poor] people in Africa. I was always very touched by that.”
Both Sides of Fame
Chantal’s status as an accomplished and recognized artist has given her the opportunity to get involved in humanitarian causes and be a voice for those who don’t ordinarily have the chance to be heard. She is engaged in causes such as War Child Canada (warchild.ca), on behalf of which she travelled to Iraq as part of their “Musicians in the War Zone” program.
It is her responsibility to her fellow human beings that she is most concerned about: Being a successful recording artist is not all she strives for. In fact, she explains, fame sometimes has a down side. “When you are an artist, people send you everything. It is indulging to the ego, to the pocketbook, to everything, to be an entertainer. When I got into it, I couldn’t have known how I was going to feel about it now.”
However, entertainers also often get asked to donate their time and money to charitable organizations. When you are given opportunities to help people through what you do, it’s like wiping the slate clean. I am doing something that matters now–music matters [to].”
Chantal embraces that part of her career. “The part of being able to give the gift of song and beyond is amazing. I have a small output; I am not a big artist. But you know, I would rather have my small output to do something [important] than be a huge massive star and do nothing for others. People are always questioning your judgment, your agendas, and all that stuff. It can suck the life out of you to analyze what other people think of you. You have to fulfill your calling.”
A Gift to the World
It is through her songs, personal and vibrant with sincerity, that she is able to fulfill her own calling and let the world hear her voice. It is the world we live in that inspires Chantal as a songwriter. “I can’t write songs that are not about much. When I get up in the morning and pour my tea, I look at my computer, and the first thing I look at is the world news. I want to know what is going on in the world. So when I write songs, if I write something stupid and silly, it doesn’t fit with me. I am not going to write about something that is not important to me.”
In addition to many new projects coming her way and a new album due to be released August 29, Chantal is a busy mom. She has two young boys, Rowan and Lucca John, with her husband Raine Maida, the lead singer of Our Lady Peace. She manages to juggle her family life and her career, and sometimes both get intertwined. As she recorded her latest album in her home studio, she related this incident on her website, “Today Rowan was yelling for me while I was recording a piano part. It ended up on the tape and we decided to keep it. So beautiful...he is just yelling, ‘Mommy!'"
Chantal Kreviazuk’s musical journey is, above all, a personal gift to the world, and her involvement in humanitarian causes can bring light to injustices and caring for those who are often forgotten. She is an inspiration and a charismatic figure who is not afraid to let us know what she cares about.
“This life is not about what I can do for me,” Chantal says, “It is about giving something back.” Her calling–to sing and to speak out on behalf of the suffering–is heard, and that makes this world a better place.
Founded in 1999, War Child Canada is an independent charitable organization working across North America and around the world to assist children affected by war and to raise awareness for children's rights everywhere. War Child helps thousands whose lives have been torn apart by war and engages North American youth to take an active role in creating a more just future.
One of War Child Canada's earliest successes was the War Child Canada Benefit Concert in Winnipeg in 2000. This concert, featuring the Tragically Hip and Chantal Kreviazuk, was the biggest benefit concert in Winnipeg's history, attracting crowds of over 80,000 on the margins of the Canadian-government sponsored Conference on War-Affected Children.
Since then, they have had two more successful concerts, a benefit album that has gone gold, Peace Songs, and original tracks on the MuchDance 2003 and 2004 CDs. Their documentary, Musicians in the War Zone, has won several awards.
Source: War Child Canada warchild.ca