Tara Holloway and Sammi Morelli are British Colombia-born, female singer/songwriters and noneof those connections are on either of them. The pair is embarking on a cross-Canada tour which was prefaced with a beautiful show at Mahtay Cafe this past weekend.
Before Holloway and Morelli play their sets, however, the 16-year-old Sydney Bergevin and Cameron Lee play a stunning set of originals and covers (of great selection). Impressive original songs were played in between covers of The Beatles, David Bowie, Bill Withers and several others.
The Brock Press got the opportunity to sit down with Holloway and Morelli to chat about their musical careers and partnership.
When asked how long they have been playing Holloway said: “we’ve probably been playing out for the same number of years.” “Just about 20 years for me, I started when I was like 11, that was like the first time I set foot in a recording studio and started to write” Morelli added, and Holloway said that she’d been playing for “22 years … I was 15 the first time I played in a bar.”
The pair have eclectic tastes, Morelli says “I listen to everything, I don’t discriminate with genres. Whatever catches my eye is what I love, and it definitely shows in my music”.
“For me, I go back to Howlin’ Wolf, he’s an old blues guy, and my dad is an old record collector … so I grew up listening to my dad’s old records, and when I was a teenager in the 90’s, I was super into old blues artists on vinyl. I was sitting home alone listening to records — I was also very social, but nobody was sitting with me when I was listening to records. Nobody was listening to records in the 90’s. Actually, it was a whole decade that skipped vinyl. … So yeah, Howlin’ Wolf and the blues and just old music and old bluegrass” says Holloway.
Morelli says “I love listening to melody that interplays with each other, and I love Stevie Wonder as a writer, I love Prince as a writer, I love Adele as a writer … I’ll go in and just listen to any song, just pick it apart and go ‘okay what did they do here? This is very cool’, and I kind of almost study it. That gives me inspiration for sure.”
“Sammi and her partner are from B.C., and I am from Vancouver, so that’s how we all know each other — from B.C. And then they moved to St. Catharines and I’ve been in Ottawa for many years — which I was born in Ottawa and then I went there again — but it has just been a really lucky time for us to do a lot of stuff musically together. We always wanted to and we always did anyways, but it was very sporadic.”
When asked whether the pair feel as though they are part of a movement with female, Canadian, singer-songwriters Holloway says “I’ve never thought of it as a movement but yes … that’s the feeling of it, is a lot of comradery and a lot of women helping each other out. There hasn’t always been a lot of women doing it for themselves in this business. It’s been a long road. Because we still come up against glass ceilings. We still come up against the men being in line before the women for a lot of these slots in festivals, radio, every aspect of it.”
As for the future, Holloway says that she is an independent artist again and excited about it. “I’ve gone through all of the big studios and big producers, and all of that stuff and now I just wanted to get back to me recording my own shit and just doing my own thing again because it didn’t work.”
Morelli is working on getting her new single from her upcoming album coming out in late Summer/Early Fall, and the pair will be starting their tour May.