Perseverance and never allowing herself to have an exit plan allowed Mélisande to stay the course in her dream of becoming a musician.
Mélisande, who simply goes by her first name, performs with Alexandre de Grosbois-Garand, who is also her husband, as Mélisande [Électrotrad].
She began her career as a singer and guitarist. When she met de Grosbois-Garand, the two decided to combine their musical influences. The result was a mixture of traditional songs and sounds mixed with electro music.
The combination of vintage, traditional music and electro-trance is what sets the group apart, said Mélisande. She said electro-trance doesn’t usually have a song with lyrics and melodies tied to it.
“What is really rooted for us is the songs,” said Mélisande. “The songs are really traditional songs with traditional melodies.”
She said usually in electro- trance music there are sounds but not songs. She said Électrotrad is a very specific project.
The group has won World Beat Album of the Year during the Canadian Folk Music Awards in 2014 and was a nominated for Traditional Singer of the Year for the Association Québécoise de L’industrie du Disque.
The group has performed across Canada, the United States, France and Australia.
From an early age, Mélisande decided she was going to follow a musical career path and did her first show when she was 14 years old. De Grosbois-Garand happened to be in the audience during her first show.
“I was three years old when I started to sing to my parents,” said Mélisande. “I was inventing songs. I was always making songs up.”
Mélisande said she never wanted to do anything else. She said people told her to choose and pursue and exit plan, but she felt that if she did that she might as well give up on her music career.
“It’s been like 25 years working toward this goal at different paces throughout my life,” she said.
Mélisande performs during the Maple Sugar Festival du Sucre D’Érable, presented by L’Association des francophones de Nanaimo. The festival runs Feb. 24-26 at Beban Park’s social centre.
This year’s headline performer is Suroît, a group from Îles-de-la-Madeleine. The band embraces Acadian roots and incorporates influences from Cajun, Celtic, bluegrass and rock. The group has performed for 40 years.
Other entertainers include Tanga, FolkloFolie, Jocelyne Baribeau, André Thériault, Boris Sichon et Triska, North Shore Celtic Ensemble, Vesta Fire and more.
Joanne Hogan, communications coordinator for the festival, said there is a wide variety of artists presenting this year.
“It’s high energy. It’s about getting people up and dancing,” she said. “It’s paying tribute to the French-Canadian beats.”
This year, Hogan said the festival has created a specific location for all children’s entertainers so spectators can be closer to the entertainers. Hogan said she hopes the change will attract more families to the event.
The opening ceremony, traditionally held on the Saturday night, is on Friday at 5:30 p.m. The ceremony is being held in conjunction with the Nanaimo Clippers’ last home game of the season at Frank Crane Arena against the Victoria Grizzlies.
Admission to the festival is by donation in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary. For more information about the festival, please go to www.francophonenanaimo.org/festival/fest_en.htm.