Four nuns traveling by canoe toward an unknown destination, a small-town stenographer crowned beauty queen, a landlocked mermaid, and a reckless runaway with one true wish—these are some of the characters that inhabit the songs of Winnipeg singer/songwriter Christine Fellows. Though they drift from swimming pools to frozen lakes, from Venetian canals to inland rivers, all the women in these songs are connected—all are femmes de chez nous (“our gals”). Six Shooter Records proudly presents Fellows’ fifth and most ambitious solo release to date: Femmes de chez nous (cd) and Reliquary/Reliquaire (dvd), a bilingual studio album and performance film, and a testament to resilience, community and the transformative power of art.
The thirteen-song Femmes de chez nous album was produced by Christine Fellows, recorded by Cam Loeppky at Prairie Recording Co. in Winnipeg, and features longtime collaborators Jason Tait (Bahamas, The Weakerthans) and Leanne Zacharias, along with a host of other remarkable musicians. The packaging features artwork by another longtime collaborator, the award-winning visual artist Shary Boyle, who, along with Zacharias, is featured in the accompanying DVD, Reliquary/Reliquaire.
Reliquary/Reliquaire is the film that captures a rare and moving multidisciplinary performance work produced by Fellows, featuring four female voices, piano, two cellos, overhead projections and film. This extraordinary performance was inspired by and filmed at Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum in Winnipeg, and celebrates Franco-Manitoban history and culture. Songs such as Mlle. Sténo are vividly animated by the overhead projections of Shary Boyle, magically infused with historic parade footage, and carried aloft by chorus of female voices. In Flood, 1861, the Grey Nuns row their canoe fearlessly toward the unknown, and Fellows’ buoyant twist on traditional French Canadian ballad Un canadien errant is accompanied by stunning footage of a vibrant community at its height.
An avid interdisciplinary collaborator, Fellows often works with visual artists, choreographers, filmmakers and musicians from all disciplines to create performance works, scores and spectacles. She was Composer-in-Residence at Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers (2007-08), Artist-in-Residence at Le Musée de Saint-Boniface Museum in Winnipeg (2009), and most recently, Dawson City Music Festival Songwriter-in-Residence (2011). Along with visual artist Shary Boyle, she was awarded a Harbourfront Centre Fresh Ground new works commission to create a performance work geared toward children, which will be unveiled during Harbourfront Centre's 2012 season, and in 2010 she co-founded the Correction Line Ensemble, a six-piece ensemble that bridges classical and contemporary music.