Few musicians have the opportunity to share the stage with major Canadian musicians and bands, but Nelson singer Pat Henman has had that chance.
Henman – who works at Selkirk College – lived in Dawson City, Yukon before landing in Nelson.
In her time in Canada’s north she opened for Blue Rodeo and sang harmony with Brad Roberts of the Crash Test Dummies.
“The Barenaked Ladies stayed at our bed and breakfast,” said Henman. “Those are things that happen in small towns and those things happen in Nelson too. The small town life, that’s what I’ve been doing for 20 years since I left the professional theatre and living in Nelson now I get to do things like I just recorded my first solo CD.”
Henman was born and raised in a small town on the southeast shore of Nova Scotia.
She studied theatre at Dalhousie University before moving to Toronto.
“I went to Toronto with a good resume,” said Henman. “I did a couple of years of theatre and cabaret work in Nova Scotia. I lived in Toronto until 1989 when I moved to Dawson City.”
Drawn to the remote Yukon community by a vaudeville production that showcased turn of the century history and the gold rush, Henman intended on staying in Dawson City for the summer.
“I ended up meeting the fellow that I married and I stayed there until 2000,” said Henman. “We had three children. We ran the shows up there and had a bed and breakfast. It was an amazing life but the time your kids hit about eight years old and you’re in Dawson, it’s a very small town.”
After hearing about Nelson, the great little arts town from guests who had stayed at their bed and breakfast, Henman and her family started looking at moving to BC.
“My husband came down here and told me how cool it was, I said ‘Ok, rent a place. I’m ready to go,’” she said. “I hadn’t even seen Nelson before I moved here. I went online and read about it and found it had been named one of the best little arts towns in Canada, and we took off. We put three kids in the car and we drove in February.”
In November of last year, Henman took to the stage to share her first solo album.
“It was frightening, exhilarating, stressful, expensive because you want to do it right and I thought I may never do it again so I wanted to do it right,” she said about making the album.
Henman worked with a lot of local musicians, many of whom she works with at Selkirk College.
“I knew them as co-workers and I had watched them perform before but not many of them knew that I sang, that I was a musician in my own right,” said Henman. “They were quite shocked and once we started working together we couldn’t believe how much fun it was. We had a great time working together.”
The album also includes work from writers and musicans from across Canada.
Henman was amazed by how easy it was to work with people who weren’t in Nelson.
“Because of the Internet, Facebook and email I was able to connect with them and they were able to send me files of the songs,” she said. “I could listen to them right away and make a decision. That was pretty darn cool. We have a guy who played piano on I think three of the songs and he did it in his own studio at home in Toronto and sent the files to my producer who lives here. It’s there he’s playing on our CD and we never left Nelson and he never came here.”
Henman is among many local musicians who will be showcased at tonight’s Kootenay Music Awards.
Her song Movin’ On is nominated for song of the year.
“To get nominated I was pleasantly and happily surprised and I’m really excited,” said Henman about the nomination.
Movin’ On is up against songs by The Automation, Shred Kelly, Wassabi Collective and Koots Roots featuring SES.
“I listened to the other songs that are nominated and I thought well I’m a little different than everyone else,” she said.
I guess I’m pretty pop and it’s kind of bluesy with a real edge to it because of the guitar and horns. The rest of the songs that I’m up against, there is rap, Shred Kelly sounds kind of bluegrassy to me, and The Automation is more rock and electronic and you have me. It couldn’t be more diverse. I’m very excited to be with those folks and I think it’s going to be a great fun night.”
For more on Pat Henman visit her website at http://pathenman.wordpress.com.