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Cynthia Fay performing this First Friday weekend

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Cathy Dobson

Cynthia Fay Gutierrez Marhue knew only a few guitar chords when she wrote and recorded her first songs.

“I became a musician by accident,” she admits. “I was a visual artist and I liked to paint, but I happened to record a song in high school that won a contest.”

She went on to write an entire EP and released it on Spotify, iTunes and other online websites when she was just 16.

From then on Cynthia Fay – as she’s known professionally – has pursued music seriously, tending toward folk, R & B and jazz.

She took up the ukulele, then guitar and piano. And most amazingly, she overcame a fear of performing in front of audiences.

“I was living in Toronto and started going to open mics three or four times a week,” she said. Slowly her confidence grew, especially when she began getting offers to perform elsewhere.

Five years later, songwriting and singing are a big part of her life and Cynthia Fay, now 21, aspires to become a successful recording artist and performer.

“I didn’t think I could like being on stage so much,” she said. “But now it satisfies me in a way that my favourite food satisfies me.”

Two years ago, Cynthia Fay’s family moved to Sarnia from Toronto.  She’s been continuing her studies at Humber College where she’s working toward a music degree, but she also comes home a lot to see family. She quickly connected to Sarnia’s community of musicians.

She has played numerous venues this summer including Refined Fool, Rondo’s and Huron Oaks, either solo or with a band.

“I think my favourite thing so far was ArtWalk,” she said.  “It was a really fun crowd and I basically played day and night.”

Cynthia Fay learned in June she had won the Jazz 4 the Ages contest as a solo vocalist in the youth category, ages 18 to 23.

Last weekend, she was in Niagara Falls to receive her award for an original song recorded at Adam Miner’s DNA studio in Sarnia. Then it was on to Soul Jazz in the Vineyard at Niagara-on-the-Lake, where she opened the show with her pal and accompanist Steve Halsey.

This Saturday, she has organized a matinee and evening show at the Sarnia Downtown Farmers & Artisans Market where she’s featured with a number of musicians from Sarnia and Toronto.

The 4 p.m. matinee kicks off with Sarnia’s Missy Burgess, followed by Toronto singer Alanna Ault, Cynthia Fay performing a mix of covers and originals, and R&B soul singer Ryan Joseph Votterro of Toronto.

The 7 p.m. evening show features Sarnia acoustic duo Evan Dawe and John Pilat, Toronto folk singer Vanessa Astarita, Steve Halsey and Cynthia Fay and Friends.

Tickets are $20 in advance on Event Brite (see Cynthia Fay and Friends Summer Concert Tunes and Tea) and at My Red Rhino TV in Bayside mall. $25 at the door.  This is a BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair) event.



There’s lots scheduled for this First Friday Cultural Walkabout in downtown Sarnia.

* Share the Passion: Gifts of Art series at Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery;

* Offsite Impact, classic rock at Cheeky Monkey;

* Music with Samantha Miller at One Tooth;

* Opening of The Sky’s the Limit exhibit at Lawrence House with pianist Doug Hacking;

* Jelly bean count contest at Esby & Soph;

* Musician Alex Shier at Ups n Downs;

* Psychic/Medium Darin James at Mystic Minds;

* Bricks 4 Kidz LEGO entertainment at 1030 Confed;

* Local author Jessica Smalls Foundation of Fire book signing at Artopia;

* Andy Taylor, art exhibition and sale at R.W. Lawton Gallery.

Visit the First Friday website at for details.

The Arts Journal features what’s great about Sarnia’s cultural scene.  Send your ideas to [email protected] or call 226-932-0985.


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