Coyote attack silences emerging Toronto talent

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell was "an old soul" despite her young age, according to her colleague and award-winning blues singer Suzie Vinnick.

Up-and-coming singer-songwriter Taylor Mitchell was "an old soul" despite her young age, according to her colleague and award-winning blues singer Suzie Vinnick.

Speaking by phone from Brockville, Ont., Vinnick said she was still in shock after receiving news that the Toronto singer had died Wednesday after a rare coyote attack in a Cape Breton national park.

"She just had a depth and an honesty to her," Vinnick told CBC News on Wednesday afternoon. "Kind of like an old soul."

Though Mitchell had just a debut album — entitled For Your Consideration — under her belt, she was already winning recognition, Vinnick said, pointing to the 19-year-old's recent nomination for a Canadian Folk Music Award for young performer of the year.

Vinnick, who co-wrote songs on For Your Consideration and coached the younger singer and musician on guitar, described Mitchell as sweet, very keen and excited to be performing professionally after studying dance and music at the Etobicoke School of the Arts.

"For someone who had been playing music for two years — maybe a year of starting to do gigs — [her achievements were] just amazing. It's tragic that that's been cut short," Vinnick said.

Attacked during solo hike

Mitchell had been on a tour through the Maritimes, including a host of gigs slated for New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

On a stop in Sydney, she decided to visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Mitchell, hiking alone on the Skyline Trail, was attacked by coyotes Tuesday afternoon. According to park officials, other hikers nearby managed to scare off the animals and call 911. The singer was hospitalized in Cheticamp and later airlifted to Halifax, where she died at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

"She was absolutely pumped about her first tour on the East Coast and to take her songwriting craft to new audiences," Mitchell's manager Lisa Weitz told The Canadian Press from Toronto.

"She was a beautiful, dynamic, young, talented woman and we're all so saddened and shocked," Weitz said.

With files from The Canadian Press