Singer-songwriter Karen Morand was in Vankleek Hill over the weekend of October 15-17 for two live shows, performing a selection of her own original songs along with covers of other artists. Accompanied by Vankleek Hill’s own Ken Duff, she performed at the Vankleek Hill Creating Centre and the Vankleek Hill Vineyard.
Morand had great things to say about both venues. The Vankleek Hill Creating Centre promotes creativity in all forms of art, something she greatly supports, and the co-working space and studio facilities are very useful to up-and-coming artists. The Vankleek Hill Vineyard is a family-run business that grows Frontenac and Frontenac Gris grapes on 55 hectares of land. They produce yearly vintages of Riesling, Rosé, Sauvignon Blanc, and others, and they also experiment with fruit wine, tea, and food. It was a picturesque location for a concert, and the owners were very accommodating.
Morand grew up in a musical family, where church choir and piano lessons meant that music was a part of her life from a very young age. It was only when she began incorporating music into her lessons in the classroom, and from there writing her own music, that she realized she could create and perform music professionally.
“The song writing took things in a bolder direction,” said Morand. “That’s when I started performing, and when I found my acoustic trio that performs in the Windsor area.”
Vankleek Hill is the latest stop on her tour, which started a couple months ago in her hometown of Windsor. She came to Vankleek Hill because she’d been referred to Porchfest some years ago, and since then Vankleek has been on her radar to revisit. Returning to places she’s performed at before is a key step in forming connections with people and a fanbase, and she says that the people she’s meeting are the coolest thing about the tour.
“It’s audience members, of course, but I also met a lady this morning cause I got lost on my walk,” she said. “It’s all built on relationships, and then building on those relationships.”
Morand describes her music as ‘soulful roots’, and she says inspiration mostly comes from living life. Her original song ‘Ghost Hotel’ came from a conversation she overheard about someone staying at an Airbnb, which are colloquially referred to as ‘ghost hotels’. The meaning of her songs isn’t always clear until after she’s done, but if there’s any overall theme, Morand says it would be hope.
“I want people to have hope,” she said. “That’s the biggest theme.”
Although she doesn’t have any dates set in the calendar, Morand said she’d like to come back in the summer, when she has a break from teaching. She has a degree in special education from the University of Toronto, and she gives music lessons as well. If there’s anything she wants her students and any aspiring musicians to know, it’s that perseverance is key.
“Don’t give up,” she said. “There’s a lot of roadblocks, and that’s discouraging, but you can’t give up.”