Alexis Normand Explores New Markets Among Old Friends through Creative Saskatchewan Investment
Saskatchewan songwriter Alexis Normand’s career, like most other artists, has taken its fair share of twists and turns. COVID-19 meant another one as she returned to her solo career. Having performed full-time with Rosie & the Riveters since 2017, she used a Market Travel Grant from Creative Saskatchewan to attend two musical showcases as a solo artist in 2022 – a choice that Normand says started simply enough. “I saw my guitar in the living room and the first songs I started writing were in French. And then, it kind of opened up a whole artistic process because I noticed that I was carrying a lot of tension about the French language and about my Francophone identity. And I decided, instead of just kind of carrying that tension and moving forward with it, I decided to become very curious about why I was feeling so weird.”
With a new album waiting in the wings, Normand used her Creative Saskatchewan funding to attend Contact Ouest and Folk Music Ontario in 2022. For Normand, making an appearance at Winnipeg’s Contact Ouest was a professional homecoming.
“Contact Ouest is the only Francophone showcasing event in Western Canada and I hadn’t been since 2016. So, it was kind of a reinitiation of my solo stuff in that market and …allowed me to build the relationships that I’ve had there, and, of course, meet a lot of new industry people from francophone Western Canada.”
Normand was received well, winning two awards that will see her perform a showcase in Quebec and at a festival in France in 2023, as well as booking over two dozen future performances in Canada. Her trip to Folk Music Ontario, also funded by Creative Saskatchewan, was about continuing to build relationships she’d had as part of Rosie the Riveters. She says her current focus on working in both markets is affirming for her as an artist.
“On an artistic level, I’m feeling much more fulfilled. I don’t feel like I have to hide one part of my identity or another. I don’t feel like I have to curate the songs in a certain way in order to fit. I’m just sort of going more boldly forward as a francophone artist who can function in both francophone and English-speaking markets.”
Normand is also tapping into a network of French-speaking high schools across the country. She says that part of the reason school boards reach out is because students can relate to the French language and identity-related messages she explores through her show.
“These themes are all super relevant in Francophone schools because, first of all, identity-building is one of the mandates of the school. And second of all, these are real tension points that I lived through, and that a lot of families, and students, and even staff are also living through currently. When someone feels secure about their identity and the way that they’re living their Francophone identity, then they might also be inspired to improve the quality of their French.”
By John Loeppky
To find out where Alexis is performing next, how you can buy her music, or to book her for a performance, you can visit her website. You can also follow her career on Facebook or Instagram.