Métis musician Andrina Turenne stands in her small home studio and tunes her teal-coloured Stratocaster. A ukulele hangs on the wall while a couple of acoustic guitars stand ready to be played.
She starts strumming lightly, singing one of the songs from her new album that is expected to come out next year in both English and French.
“I decided to make a bilingual album because it represents who I am as a singer-songwriter, but it was also very important to me to create an album just in French to really honour the francophone side and to share that with the francophone public specifically,” Turenne told APTN News.
Turenne is well-known in the Franco-Manitoban music circuit — and across Canada. She’s performed at multiple editions of Indigenous Day Live, was part of Juno Award-winning group Chic Gamine and toured with renowned playwright and pianist Tomson Highway.
But since 2016, she’s been paving her way as a solo artist.
Turenne said her identity has helped shape her into the musician she is today.
“I think that music has long been a part of Métis gatherings and Métis culture and I feel like there’s such a joie de vivre in getting together and in celebrating, and music is such a wonderful way to do that,” she said.
“It’s such a wonderful way to express joy and sorrow, and collectively share those emotions together.”
Her latest single, “En plein coeur mai,” honours Métis resistance at Batoche in 1885. It was released on the anniversary of Louis Riel’s execution.
Turenne said music was integral to her Franco-Métis upbringing.
“I think my first starts were really familial, with family and friends around the fire. That’s where I think I learned how to harmonize and about the joy of music, I always knew that’s what I wanted to do,” said Turenne.
She also credits the Franco-Manitoban music community for launching her career.
“The francophone music scene here in Manitoba is really rich. In the late 60s, early 70s, there was an organization called Le 100 Nons that was created, and it created a core at the heart of the community,” said Turenne.
She joined Le 100 Nons young, and she said it allowed her to form her first bands and hone her skills as a musician.
“It’s really a community that gives back, it’s really special,” said Turenne.
She explained that her upcoming francophone EP is part of her giving back to the community that nurtured her as a musician.
“The reason I chose to do a francophone EP is that I have a lot of friends with kids, and we know it’s a challenge to live exclusively in French here, so I really wanted to create something that would help transmit the language while also celebrating it,” said Turenne.
She said the album explores themes of love, loss, resilience and nature.
“I generally gravitate towards overcoming things in life and finding the strength to go on in certain situations, and there’s love themes on the album but just sort of, it’s struggle and it’s light,” she said.
“I kind of wanted this record to feel like a log floating down a river. Just like that effortless sense of feeling carried by something.”
No matter where her music takes her, Turenne said she’ll always find her way back home.
“I’m proud of where I’m from and the communities I grew up in. I don’t think I could really separate one from the other, because that’s really what inspires me in life.”