There’s not much Jen Brace likes better than a Christmas concert in a cozy venue. But harmonizing with her friend Missy Burgess makes it even better, she says.
Between them, the two local singers have a lot of performing experience. Brace has played and recorded with multiple bands in Sarnia over the past 20 years. Burgess was part of the Ottawa music scene and has recorded three albums.
Four years ago, Burgess moved to Sarnia to be closer to family and immediately sought like-minded spirits.
One of them is Brace, who Burgess met during a Friday night jam session at a coffee hangout on Cameron Street called Thanks A Latte.
The two quickly discovered how well their voices blend.
“I fell in love with her and her voice,” says Burgess. “Jen has a bright, clear voice with such good pitch.”
“We fit well together,” agrees Brace. “Missy has a really bluesy, smoky voice that’s just really lovely.”
In 2016, the two put together a Christmas performance in the Turret Room at The Lawrence House Centre for the Arts.
It sold out and has become an annual event, with two shows this year on Dec. 14 and 16.
“We’ll each do our own thing and then several arrangements together,” said Burgess. “We like mixing the really traditional songs that people love to hear and some non-Christmas songs that work well at this time of year.”
Some have a country spin; others are bluesy. Burgess also plans to sing Huron Carol, a song she performed years ago with her late brother, tenor Michael Burgess, at a fundraising concert in Toronto.
“Singing with Michael was always such a treat,” she said.
Traditional tunes on tap this year include Silent Night and Mary’s Boy Child.
Brace is performing Gordon Lightfoot’s Song for a Winters Night and The River by Joni Mitchell. Burgess will sing Randy Newman’s song I Think it’s Going to Rain and Keith Glass’ Let There Be Peace.
Together they plan to do Tom Waite’s Hold On, dedicated to everyone who struggles at Christmastime.
“This isn’t your average Christmas concert,” said Burgess. “This is our third one. We are very proud of it and how it keeps improving every year.”
Burgess is a board member at The Lawrence House and co-founded the centre’s popular Open Stage held the second and third Mondays of the month.
“I’m surprised how well it took off,” Burgess said. “We’re hearing a lot more original work than I anticipated.”
She also started a new Writers’ Block series once a month at The Lawrence House, where writers read their material and get feedback. The next Writers’ Block is Dec. 30.
Brace is keeping a busy schedule too and has a gig at the Refined Fool’s Empty Spaces Christmas Show Dec. 27 with Pimple Zoo, a cover band for Guided By Voices. She’s playing drums at that one.
IF YOU GO:
WHAT: Christmas House Concert at The Lawrence House
WHEN: Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 16 at 3 p.m.
WHERE: The Turret Room
TICKETS: $10 online (http://www.lawrencehouse.ca/house-concerts.html)or at the Lawrence House, 127 Christina St. South.