VideoSoul singer Miss Rae ready to share her voice with the world
Posted by Jen Zoratti, SCENE Writer | Wednesday May 1, 2013
Miss Rae will perform at New Music Wednesday on May 1.
For most of my life I was a 'closet singer,' worried that my voice was too strange, too loud, too low, and too wild to be embraced.
—Miss Rae, musician
Newcomer Cheyenne Rae Bruneau, aka soulstress Miss Rae, has such a great big, bold voice and sings the blues with such heavy, world-weary conviction, it's hard to believe she's only 21.
It's harder still to believe that she almost kept that voice from the world.
"For most of my life I was a 'closet singer,' worried that my voice was too strange, too loud, too low, and too wild to be embraced," she said. "At nine years old I would sing along to my mom's old records, and she'd take me out to the Sidetrack Cafe on school nights to watch the Blues Jams. As a teenager, I was fortunate enough to be awarded a bursary to attend Rachelle Van Zanten's Rocker Girl Camp, it was there where I sang on stage for the first time."
Rae is a rabid music fan, too, which she's parlayed into a side gig as a live music photographer. When she moved to Winnipeg from Edmonton five years ago, she fell in love with the local blues/roots scene -- but, as an aspiring musician, she found she didn't really connect with any current female artists. Her rumble of a voice is not of the breathy, Feist variety, nor does she have the pipes of a pop star.
"Then I discovered the soulful, divine sound of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings," she recalled. "Sharon Jones reminded me that all women -- no matter their age or background -- could be celebrated as female musicians. Jones is in her 50s, with her high energy and passion, she is one of the most captivating performers alive today."
Happily for vocalists like Miss Rae, the recent success of such acts as Grammy-winning blues rockers Alabama Shakes, fronted by the inimitable Brittany Howard, and the Polaris Music Prize nominated Cold Specks, led by the ethereal voice of Al Spx, proves there's plenty of room in popular music for norm-challenging voices.
As a songwriter, Rae was drawn to the blues as a means to celebrate her own background, exploring her Métis and African heritage. She lives on a diet of Billie Holiday, Big Mama Thornton, Edith Piaf, Big Maybelle, Howlin' Wolf and Tom Waits.
It's little surprise, then, that Miss Rae's forthcoming full-length debut with her band The Midnight Ramblers will "convey the gritty tonal qualities of Delta blues, along with the soulfulness of old jazz and roots."
"We plan on recording the album live off the floor and on analogue at Empire Recording," she said. "They offer an array of vintage instruments, including an RCA 44 microphone from the 1930s, which I fell in love with at first sight. It was used as a film prop for most of its lifetime, and the sound quality just gives me the shivers."
And as Miss Rae says, it's a big microphone for a big voice.
You can catch Miss Rae performing a stripped-down set with guitarist Vince Andrushko at New Music Wednesday May 1 at Ozzy's. Miss Rae and The Midnight Ramblers will also be playing an album fundraiser show at The Park Theatre on June 7.