North·Music That Matters

From folk to rock and back again with Lana Welchman

Yukon musician Lana Welchman shares the five songs that chart her own musical journey to a reluctant folkie.

Lana Welchman takes us on a musical journey in five songs

Lana Welchman says she chose 5 songs that 'bring me back to certain memories or certain places and speak to who I am.' (Submitted by Lana Welchman)

This story is part of a web series called Music that Matters with CBC Yukon's Airplay host Dave White. Dave sits down with Yukoners to talk about five pieces of music that inspire them. 

Music is a huge part of Lana Welchman's life. It not only inspired her to become a musician, it also inspired her to bring that joy to other young women and girls through her Rock The North program.

So the five songs she selected for this edition of Music That Matters are a kind of road map that chart her journey.

"The songs I selected are songs that have been meaningful for me throughout my life," she said. "They bring me back to certain memories or certain places and speak to who I am now as a musician and in what I do within my day-to-day with various non-profit organizations and with my business."

The first stop on the tour is a song with deep roots in the American south: Rocky Top performed by Dolly Parton.

"My sister and I used to play and perform songs for our parents and grandparents and friends and family," Welchman said.

"She'd dig out a ukulele, and I just remember this songbook that used to live in our piano bench. We'd just pull out this songbook and Rocky Top was one of the songs we used to play at Christmas and things like that."

Welchman's second choice is the first song she ever taught herself to sing: Forever by Ben Harper.

It's also the first song she ever performed publicly as an adult, though she wasn't completely aware of that fact at the time.

"I used to live in a little cabin...in the parking lot at Gold City Tours," she said, adding she used to have dinner parties there.

"I did one song after a lot of convincing and some wine. And the next day I went to breakfast and a bunch of people said, 'Oh, I heard you performed last night.' I was so embarrassed that anybody heard me perform in public," Welchman said.

Welchman turned up the volume for her next choice: Rich by Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

"I sort of gave up music for a little bit because I hated the fact I sounded like a folk singer," she said. 

"It drove me crazy, it's not what I wanted. I wanted to be a rock star and get really loud. I remember listening to Karen O and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the first time...and I thought, this is what I want to do. Every time I hear that intro I get so excited."

Welchman said her fourth choice may be her favourite song of all time, Deceptacon by Le Tigre.

"This song I play all the time with the rock campers," she said.

"Whenever I'm in a bad mood I throw this song on. It picks up my energy, it picks up my spirits.

The song is also Welchman's go-to karaoke song, she says.

Welchman decided to come full circle with her final choice: Little Georgia Rose by The Seldom Scene. 

After rejecting the idea of playing the folk music she grew up with, a few years ago she formed a band with her fiddle-playing sister, and they decided to reach back to their roots.

"We started playing old country covers and bluegrass tunes and traditional fiddle songs," she said.

"As much as I rebelled against that, all those folk traditional type songs, it is now the music I play all the time."

Welchman says the song is also one of her favourites.

"I do a sing along at McDonald Lodge in Dawson City and this is one of the songs that I sing with the residents there and they love it as well. I've just come full circle."

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