New Brunswick

'I am a product of my experiences': Measha Brueggergosman tells all in new memoir

Fredericton-born opera sensation Measha Brueggergosman has written an unabashedly honest memoir about her professional successes, personal struggles and the secrets she had kept.

No subject is off-limits in Fredericton native's candid autobiography, Something Is Always On Fire

Opera star Measha Brueggergosman has documented her life story in Something Is Always On Fire. (Craig Cooper/CBC/HarperCollins)

Fredericton-born opera sensation Measha Brueggergosman's reasons for writing her new tell-all autobiography are as complex as they are simple.

"To whom much is given, much is required," she says.

The 40-year-old internationally acclaimed soprano feels blessed.

She has won Juno Awards, been nominated for a Grammy, sung to a telecast of more than three billion viewers at the opening of the 2010 Olympic Games, performed for the Royal Family at Westminster Abbey and soloed in the great concert halls of Canada, the United States, Asia and Europe.

But she says her career success has been matched by off-stage struggles, including being molested twice before the age of 10, obesity, the miscarriage of twins, infidelity and a brush with death from a dissected aorta.

"And what was required of me was to put all this stuff down in a book so that people who have experienced what I've experienced — and I am perfectly confident in saying that I am not alone, but there are people who don't know that they are not alone — so you know, I want to be used to serve and part of what I have to use in service is my own story.

"It's all I have, really."

Brueggergosman's memoir, Something Is Always On Fire: My Life So Far, released last week by Harper Collins, is candid and revealing.

It didn't come easily though. She recalls sitting in her cabin in the woods in Banff National Park and "doing a lot of crying," coming to terms with the fact that if she was going to write a book, it "had to be the truth."

I'm not defined by the mistakes of my past, I am a product of my experiences.- Measha Brueggergosman

"There's a lot of difficult truths that we have to tell ourselves in order to move forward into whatever it is we're meant to be contributing," she says.

The mother of two delves into some of her most excruciating experiences. A surprise intervention by family members at an airport was "the absolute worst," she says.

Brueggergosman was returning from a trip abroad with someone she "really shouldn't have been with" and when the arrival doors opened, "standing there are the trifecta of like morality" — her brother, father and husband.

"If I had to imagine the worst thing ever, and what would be the most humiliating, the most soul-crushing, the most like profound gotcha moment in the history of gotcha moments, this would be it," she says.

The look on her father's face, a combination of consternation and openness, was "heartbreaking."

Journey of self-discovery

Looking back, Brueggergosman realizes they only wanted the best for her. In the moment, however, she was angry and "not reachable."

"I didn't know what I wanted from my life. I didn't know who I was," she says. "I was really lost."

Writing the book has been part of her "journey of self-discovery," she says, "a journey that leads to a better place."

"I have this life and it has happened, there's no denying it, so what now? I'm not defined by the mistakes of my past, I am a product of my experiences. And here they are … in under [400] pages."

With files from Information Morning Fredericton