Ottawa-based Amanda Rheaume is an accomplished Métis singer-songwriter with a powerful, slightly gritty, deeply personal, and instantly accessible folk/roots sound with elements of country, pop, and soul. Rheaume has released three albums Keep a Fire (2013), Light of Another Day (2011), and Acoustic Christmas (2009).
She has recently returned from an international tour playing shows in England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Switzerland, and Denmark. Back home in Canada, Rheaume recently received a Canadian Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Songwriter of the Year (2014) and a Juno Award nomination for Aboriginal Album of the Year (2014) both for Keep a Fire. She is endorsed by Epiphone, supported by Gibson Guitar, and was featured in Acoustic Guitar magazine.
Performing over 160 shows a year, Rheaume has delivered her unique and soulful blend of folk-country-pop twinged tracks to audiences around the world, including Canada (coast to coast), the USA, Europe, Faroe Islands, Central America and more. She has opened for artists such as Emmylou Harris, K'Naan, Lucinda Williams, and Ani Difranco, and played various festivals such as JUNOFest, NXNE, SXSE, CMW, WORLD Pride, National Aboriginal Day, Live from the Rock, Summerfolk, Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa Folk Fest, London Home Country, Majors Hill Canada Day, and North American Indigenous Games.
Rheaume performed for Canadian Troops in Kandahar, Kabul, UAE, Italy, and Nunavut, as well as the Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica. She raised money on tour for the families of military personnel. This spring, she sang the national anthems at an Ottawa Senators game and performed on CTV's Canada AM (National broadcast).
Just last year Rheaume was shortlisted for the Council for the Arts in Ottawa's RBC Emerging Artist Award. Her increasing success stems from her soulful ability to translate personal stories into messages, evoke a feeling of positivity, communicate the strength of those before her, and connect with her listeners.
Rheaume, whose family has always talked enthusiastically about its history, and whose great aunt wrote a book about it, felt inspired to start setting the family stories to song. She collected tales from her surviving relatives, teamed up with writing partner John MacDonald and producer Ross Murray to create her latest album.
KEEP A FIRE - 2013 Album
Keep a Fire was the #1 album of 2013 on the CKCU Radio Station in Ottawa, and made the Top 10 Highlights for Summer in Telegraph UK.
The seeds of Keep a Fire were planted back in December 2011, when Rheaume traveled over the Northwest Passage in a Hercules aircraft to play for troops in Alert, Nunavut. Seeing the passage from above, she reflected on her maternal grandfather, Thomas Arthur Irvine, who had been a navigator onboard the HMCS Labrador - the first vessel to circumnavigate North America in a single voyage. As a result, Keep a Fire (2013) was born, a varied and evocative collection of mostly story-songs about her ancestors living up to the tradition of epic family-of-origin albums.
Featuring beautiful electric guitar, Rheaume pays tribute to her Métis heritage with “Keep a Fire in the Rain,” a pulsing piece about her grandfather and Ojibway great grandmother who lived exactly halfway between the reserve and the mine site in God’s Lake, MB – since the mixed-race couple were not welcome in either community.
“A.G.B. Bannatyne” offers a sprightly ode to her great-great-great-grandfather, a founding father of Manitoba and friend to Louis Riel, who hosted the province’s early legislative sessions in his home – and after whom Bannatyne Ave. in Winnipeg is named.
The critically acclaimed violin-charged folk hit "Not This Time" describes the harrowing voyage across Great Slave Lake taken by her paternal great grandparents, who were on route from Nelson House, MB to a Hudson Bay posting in Fort Norman, NWT. Her great grandmother and her six children travelled on a barge attached to a paddle wheeler, while her great grandfather helped shovel coal on the boat. When a storm hit, the barge, and the family, were set adrift in the elements for two days until, miraculously, they were reunited with the boat and Rheaume’s great grandfather. Rheaume’s great grandmother had a history of marine tragedies in her family (her own father died on a lake during a storm) and the song's title is a toast to her escaping that fate.
In 2015, Rheaume has tour plans in Canada, Europe, and UK, and will be performing at the Pan Am Games in Toronto.
She is currently writing for her 4th album, the next development of her singer-songwriting craft featuring elements of country, soul, and folk while keeping true to her distinct storytelling through songs.