Connie with her family band. From left: husband Paul Campagne, son Aleksi Campagne, Connie, and son Gabriel Campagne.
A three-time JUNO Award winner and member of the Order of Canada (amidst a multitude of other accolades,) Canadian musician Connie Kaldor never stops.
She just released her 18th album, Keep Going, and is celebrating an impressive 45 years in show business this year. We caught up with this musical dynamo ahead of some upcoming Alberta concerts. Read on to hear about her extensive career, what it’s like playing with her up-and-coming-star of a son and the impact CKUA has had on her journey.
Connie, congratulations on your new album, Keep Going. How are you feeling about it, now that it’s out in the world?
Thank you. There’s all the excitement coupled with the usual trepidation. I worked with some wonderful musicians, some of whom are my family, so I know the recording sounds great but, like any songwriter, somewhere in the back of your mind you’re thinking, “Okay everyone, please like them as much as I do!”
When you write about serious things, you hope that you’ve written them well and that they connect with others. When the single “Keep Going” was released, I got a message on Facebook from someone who had evacuated from a fire zone, and she said it was exactly what she needed to hear. That’s when I know I’m doing my job.
You’re celebrating 45 years in show business. When you look back to the beginning, what are your thoughts on how your journey has unfolded?
It feels unbelievable, really. There were so few women in the scene, and Canadian artists were also fighting for a place on the stage. On the other hand, it felt like we were changing things, which was exciting. As an independent artist, although there were and are times when I wondered what I was doing, I am grateful now for the experience of building my recording career and for now owning all my work.
I’ve travelled and had some amazing experiences and I have been allowed to be creative and can continue to be. What a gift that is. I am so grateful for my career and the amazing number of folks that have been part of it.
All of the obstacles that I faced starting out, as a woman in this industry, and in the world in general, were overcome because of the people. The friends whose couches I slept on, the women who booked a show in the women’s bookstore, the folk community that built festivals and started folk clubs, the friends who convinced their local festival to hire me, who lobbied to get more women hired at their festivals, etc. etc. Without all of them I don’t think any of us in the scene would be still making music today. And they did it because they love the music and the ragtag bunch that create it.
As we head into our Fall Fundraiser, can you tell us what independent radio like CKUA has meant to you and your career over the years?
CKUA played my very first album and it has always been a place that put my music on the air. If you were an independent musician without a major label, the wonderfully independent CKUA was the oasis in the desert.
CKUA always makes me feel like I belong. And I tune in myself when I get in range. It’s always interesting, always different, and always excellent.
CKUA reaches my audience, keeps festival-goers in the know of new and exciting talent, keeps alive the music that shapes our culture and opens our eyes to other cultures and musical styles that we can discover. A radio station like CKUA is equally essential to an artist like me who has been doing it for a long time, and to the new wonderful musicians in any genre that are looking to be heard. Thank you, CKUA supporters, for keeping the airwaves interesting.
You’re going to be in Alberta very soon, with your son Aleksi Campagne opening for you. He won a lot of hearts at the Bear Creek Folk Music Festival in Grande Prairie this summer. What’s it like to have Aleksi tour and perform with you?
I love singing with my family and it’s a wonderful alchemy that happens on stage for me. Aleksi has such range as a player. Having him open for me on this tour allows me to watch the audience and see them react. I had better be on my toes, because I have to follow him!
I love hearing you say that he won a lot of hearts at Bear Creek. Somehow to see him here in Alberta winning hearts in the place where I started my career makes me feel like the circle is complete. I am also grateful that I’m a musician because I can truly appreciate the complexity of what Aleksi is doing as a musician on top of the beauty of his songs and voice. I am savouring every moment because he’s on his way and writing for his generation. It feels like handing the torch. It’s all I can do to not jump up and say, “I’m his mom!” And there goes his cool.
Creating a new album is obviously a massive amount of work. Now that it’s out, what’s next for you after this tour?
Well, after spending a couple of hours wishing that Terry Wickham will invite me back to the Edmonton Folk Festival … I will get together the 19th album, work on my newsletter and write and gather archive things for my Patreon page, add some interviews to my podcast, and dream up some cool projects. Including, more than likely, a tour in the US.
So … not much happening then. Just kidding. Good luck, Connie! Thanks for all you do.
Connie Kaldor plays shows in Spruce Grove, Foothills County and Calgary, starting Oct. 26. Learn more here.
And if you believe in supporting artists on their journeys, donate today to help CKUA do just that!