With her latest release, ‘Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over’, enchanting Vancouver singer-songwriter Hilary Grist has written a bedtime children’s book, composed a musical soundtrack and contributed her own whimsical artwork to create a soothing, restful experience for the whole family to enjoy together.
‘I felt really inspired when two brand new nieces were born into our family and I began writing them lullabies,’ says Grist. ‘My brother and I grew up escaping the city to the Gulf Islands on the west coast with our family each summer to find the peace and quiet. There we found time to connect to nature and to each other. My mother is an avid gardener who loves birds and my father loves to sail. Pretty soon a story emerged intermingled with songs about the glory of adventure, the power of imagination and the beauty of renewal and second chances.’
The story is about Ira and Isabelle, two siblings living in a little red house by the sea, who decide one night to escape the sound of the city’s beeping cars and sail off to a faraway land where they learn about the transformative power of dreams and letting go. In addition to the narrated story, the album offers 9 original dream songs along with an ethereal medley rendition of Johanne Brahms’ classic ‘Cradle Song’ and ‘Hush, Little Baby’.
Produced by her husband and frequent collaborator, Mike Southworth, they worked together in the studio to produce the album of original heart warming dream songs with elaborate and evocative soundscapes. Matthew Rogers (The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer) also contributed several stunning string arrangements played by the Yaletown String Ensemble.
Hilary regularly adds her own visual art stamp to her music and this project was no exception. Along with a small team of dedicated artist friends, including Dana Irving and Adam Thomas, Hilary and Mike created the sublimely detailed sets and charming characters. As a result, the artwork has a tactile, hand-made quality that conjures the magic of childhood imagined and real, a transformation of surroundings into something spectacular.
Released June 2, 2015 by Parents’ Choice Award-winning publisher of storybooks with CDs for children, Secret Mountain, from Montreal, the book/album is Grist’s third full-length offering, joining a handful of EPs in the prolific songwriter’s back catalogue, and picks up right where 2014’s acclaimed ‘Come & Go’ left off. Her signature brand of firefly folk dipped in dreamy, alternative art-pop envelopes her dulcet, often delicate vocal delivery. The result is a beautiful blend of styles that appeals to fans of Feist, Norah Jones, and Neko Case. Already nominated for a 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award, a 2015 Western Canadian Music Award and a Gold Winner in this year’s National Parenting Publication Awards, the project has been very generously received.
Born in Quesnel, BC and bred in Maple Ridge, Grist was composing music at the piano in pre-school. Later years of piano lessons and singing with the high school choir propelled her to Vancouver, where she studied jazz at the world-renowned Capilano University while deepening her pool of musical influences and honing her songwriting skills.
Grist’s songs can evoke emotion with ease, and their cinematic conductivity translates as well to the big and small screens as it does to her listeners’ real-life narratives. Her music has enhanced dramatic and romantic sequences in a vast number of television programs, including Grimm (NBC), Being Human (NBC/Syfy), Arctic Air (CBC), Hello Goodbye (CBC), Continuum (Showcase) and Degrassi (MuchMusic). She’s also a perennial favourite of taste-making campus stations across the continent, is featured regularly on the CBC, and has been heralded by critics like Alan Cross and CBC’s Lana Gay and countless press outlets, including The Province and Vancouver Sun.
What’s more, the accolades extend beyond music and into other media. Her quirky creative flare with visual art and video has garnered admiration from fans and followers across the globe. From hand-drawn and chalkboard-animated music videos to cardboard cityscapes, colourful e-cards, and beyond, Grist’s output isn’t limited to cleverly crafted pop songs. In 2014, Grist had a nomination for ‘Video of the Year’ at the WCMAs (Western Canadian Music Awards) and was longlisted for the Prism Prize.
The songs translate equally well to the stage, as Grist’s live performances have earned a level of acclaim akin to her studio albums. She has already performed high-profile events at home and abroad, including NXNE and CMW in Toronto, the Blue Note in Japan, the Busan International Rock Festival and Ulsan World Music Festival in Korea, the Edge of the World Festival in Haida Gwaii, and the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival in BC.
Her success around the globe and in major media proves that music is indeed the universal language, and Hilary Grist is superbly fluent. Her creativity reaches beyond music and into visual arts, music videos, poetry, and prose, and the energy she emits is incredibly contagious.