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Maple Leaf

Justine Vandergrift

is a young singer-songwriter from Calgary Alberta who is coming to Germany for the first time this Fall 2019. Another very talented Canadian artist to follow…

-Please tell us about your background and when music started to take a bigger place in your life.

There is a tape recording of my first song when I was 6 years old, it’s a very funny song where I repeat the line „it’s a day, it’s a day, it’s a day for everybody“… a very inclusive first song! I grew up in a typical religious family where we went to church every week and I think that’s truly where I first started to understand music. I remember listening to the harmonies in the choir and being able to sing them very easily. I also remember being able to play back melodies that my piano teacher would play… I never really did learn how to read music, I’ve always played by ear. When I was 12 years old when I began to play guitar, I had an excellent teacher named Chris Pico in our town Lacombe Alberta for 6 months. I was so inspired and began to teach myself chords so that I could finish the songs I was writing. I continued in my studies at school and went to university for Social Science but all I wanted was to write songs and perform them so by the time I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree I was very ready to record my first album and play shows around Canada. I’ve been writing and performing music almost full time since 2011 and I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

-Will this be your first visit to Germany/Europe? In what way do you think the audience is/will be different than in North America?

I stayed with my relatives in the Netherlands for 1 week on my way back from a university research trip to Kenya in 2007. Besides that, this is my first visit to Europe to play music and I’m very excited! I generally get along really well with Europeans who I have met in my travels. I have always felt Europeans are a bit ahead of North Americans; more progressive, and advanced in their cultural identities. They also seem more interested in original music and songwriting than the average North American. I’ve heard from bands who have toured in Europe that European audiences are more appreciative than North American. I’m curious to see if this is true.

-Would you like to sing in different languages and if yes, which ones and why?

I’ve always wanted to learn Dutch and Spanish and maybe German too! I would like to start by learning songs in other languages as that has always been the easiest way for me to memorize. So if there are German songs other than Edelweiss 😉 for me to learn, please let me know!

-The music world has changed a lot in the last 20 years always becoming more difficult to make a living out of it. What drives you through all the hardship and obstacles?

Making a living in music has gotten harder since I began in 2011 as people don’t buy music nearly as much as they used to. I often tell people that to have a career in music you really have to love music and do it for that reason. Aside from that I have a lot of supportive friends, family and fans that keep me going. I work very hard and try to be grateful for every opportunity I get.

-Our members and friends all hold Canada dearly in their hearts. What are your favourite places in Canada and why?

I have stayed in Alberta because I love the open skies, the Rocky Mountains and the plains. My first 10 years of my life were in the Okanagan in BC so I love it there too as well as the west coast. I also love Montreal, Ottawa and St. Johns Newfoundland. Great memories in all of those places. I am proud to be Canadian and since I love the outdoors, I am glad to live and tour here.

-If you could perform with any artist who ever existed, whom would you play with and why?

That’s a hard one to answer as I have so many musical heroes bit I would love to sing, write and perform with Dolly Parton. She has the most impressive catalogue of incredible songs. I love how she sings and her light attitude towards life.

-What are your achievements you are most proud of?

I’m proud of my radio play in Canada, successful tours and shows all as a result of being a self managed Canadian musical artist.

-What are your greatest goals as an artist?

My greatest goals are:
-To create music and write songs that people connect to and enjoy.
-To financially sustain a career in music. 🙂

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