Montréal musician Éveline Rousseau is head to Parksville Jan. 24 to show people just how versatile the harp is. — Submitted by Éveline Rousseau

Genre-hopping harpist, singer to perform in Parksville

Musician on a quest to demystify harp playing GZAL on Jan. 24

Though thought of as angelic and ethereal, there’s a lot more to the harp than many people hear.

Montréal harpist/singer/songwriter Éveline Rousseau is on a quest to change that limiting perspective on her beloved instrument, and is coming to Parksville’s Ground Zero Acoustic Lounge on Jan. 24 to perform an at times jazz-like, at others rock-inspired concert that includes a sprinkle of classical as well.

“I want to integrate the harp in all kinds of contexts,” said Rousseau in an email to The NEWS.

Rousseau said her love affair with the harp began at the age of 12, when she instinctively walked up to the harp from among 15 instruments to choose from in a school music class.

“I’d never thought about the harp before, but I guess my gut feeling had it right,” she said.

She’s been playing the harp for 26 years now, but began exploring less commonly used aspects of the harp about 12 years ago.

Starting more improvisatory projects, she said she wanted to “go beyond the angelic, (ethereal) sound so often associated with the harp.

“It is indeed a beautiful aspect, but the harp can also be very powerful, groovy, earthy, prominent!

“Like the piano, it can play various roles as well… To sum it up, it has it all,” she said.

Over the years, Rousseau has played with a variety of musicians and in a variety of projects, including The Barr Brothers, Karen Young, Coral Egan, Pierre Lapointe, Martin Leon and others.

Her band includes three musicians: Olivier Babz on bass, François Jalbert on guitar and keyboard, and Mark Nelson on drums.

She described her group as having a “modern, indie/rock and jazz approach,” where she sings as well.

Singing along with her harp playing came naturally to Rousseau as well, she said.

“(It was) during a broken heart night, it totally exploded out of me,” she said.

“It made me feel so good as an artist, and as the broken-hearted teenager.”

Rousseau’s songs reflect her influences, she said, like Karen Young, Joni Mitchell, Pink Floyd and Karkwa, as well as the different genres of the bands she’s played with, from rock to jazz to world music.

In addition to Rousseau’s own music, the upcoming performance will include a few covers of Joni Mitchell songs.

Asked if she has a particular message with her music, Rousseau said that, beyond proving the people the versatility of the harp, she hopes her music inspires people to better connet with themselves.

“I believe as an artist we are capable of making people feel unknown emotions, making new connections within themselves,” she said.

Rousseau performs at GZAL (8-464 Island Hwy. West, Parksville) on Jan. 24 with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. and the show beginngin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 in advance.

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