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Band called Georgian Bay coming to Belleville

By Stephanie Clue [1]

BELLEVILLE – A two-woman folk duo called Georgian Bay [2] will perform in Belleville this month.

Kelly Lefaive and Joëlle Westman met in 2008 when they were studying jazz together at the University of Toronto. Westman, born in Marseille, France [3], came to Canada when she was very young and grew up in the village of Tweed [4]. Lefaive, born in Penetanguishene [5], Ont., grew up in the Georgian Bay area.

Lefaive began singing and playing piano at the age of three.

“Music has always been a lifelong thing for me,” she said as the two spoke to QNet News from the Georgian Bay area Tuesday.  It was in high school that she decided she wanted to pursue music as a career, she added.

Westman grew up in a musical household, with her grandmother playing piano and her father a folk guitarist who opened for singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn [6].

“We just always had music in the house,” she said.

After graduating from university, Westman – who sings and plays guitar – decided to invest in getting a recording done, and asked Lefaive, a singer and violinist, to sit in on some tracks. At the time Westman was living in London, Ont., and Lefaive was in Toronto.

“I had a lot of fun playing with Kelly and I loved her ideas,” Westman said. “I just had this gut feeling that we should write together.” 

The pair began writing songs in 2013 and released their first album, Horizons [7], a year later. Their second and most recent album, released this month, is called Patience [8].

They choose the name Georgian Bay because it is a special place for both of them. “It’s always been a place where I can find more peace in my life,” Lefaive said. “It’s a lot quieter and more tranquil here.”

They sing in both English and French, and were named the Franco-Ontarian musical discovery of 2014 by Radio-Canada [9]‘s Grands Lacs Café [10].

They didn’t start out thinking they would write and perform in both languages, but combining the two seemed to fit their music style, they said.

“There was one tune that I started called J’ai fini, and it just wasn’t gelling in English,” Westman said. “The minute Kelly put it in French, it just worked.”

Lefaive grew up in a bilingual community, and writing in French comes naturally to her, while Westman is just starting to learn the language herself.

“In the end, what it comes down to is what language can say what we want to say,” Lefaive said.

In 2015 they preformed at the Shelter Valley Folk Festival [11] in Grafton and at Sudbury’s La Nuit émergente [12].

Westman and Lefaive received several grants to make their first album, but the financial came with a tight deadline.

“Things felt very rushed. I remember sitting in a Greyhound [13] station writing parts for (the song) River with Kelly on a laptop before I went back to London,” said Westman. “With the second album we had so much time. There was no pressure at all and we had time to mix it all together and it was just great.”

The duo are touring Ontario and Quebec to promote Patience. They will be preforming a house concert at 14 Patterson St. in Belleville on Thursday, March 24. For tickets, visit their website, georgianbayband.com [2].