Chantal grows from prodigy to chanteuse

Canadian singer Chantal Kreviazuk remembers having her mother call her into the living room to perform for family and friends.

"And I would say, 'No Mom, I don't want to,' in a whiny voice. I was the little party favor," says Ms. Kreviazuk, laughing, in a telephone interview from Toronto. "I was going through that teenager stage thing."

The young singer-songwriter, who grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, has come a long way since then.

In July, she sang the Canadian National Anthem at baseball's All-Star Game in Atlanta. And, earlier this year, she won a Juno Award for Best Female Artist (Canada's equivalent of a Grammy) and released her second CD, "Colour Moving and Still" (Columbia), a 10-song CD filled with rich, evocative songs and pretty piano playing. It also won a Juno award - for Best Pop/Adult Album.

Kreviazuk's voice, which has been compared to fellow Canadians Alanis Morissette and Sarah McLachlan, can be heard on the title song for the popular TV show "Providence," and on the soundtracks to the movie "Armageddon" and the TV series "Dawson's Creek."

Kreviazuk also experiments with unusual projects. She recently scored music for a restored version of "Cleopatra" on Turner Classic Movies, which aired throughout August.

Kreviazuk (pronounced Kre-VEE-a-zuk) first sat down at the piano at the age of 3. During her teenage years, she became a piano prodigy, playing everything from the Beatles to Barbra Streisand - all by ear.

"I used to play and people would say, 'Did you memorize that?' And I said, 'What do you mean memorize?' she says, laughing. Kreviazuk is also trained in the classics. She spent her formative years studying piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Canada.

To earn money, she would sing the national anthem at local hockey games. In high school, Kreviazuk tried to join an otherwise all-male band, but "they couldn't really handle a female being a leader. It was sort of a drugged-out scene, too, so I said, 'See ya' later.' "

Eventually she wrote and performed on her own, then recorded a demo tape and sent it to Sony. The company responded. Her debut album, "Under These Rocks and Stones" (1997) was co-produced by Peter Asher, who has helped shape the careers of musicians like Carole King and Joni Mitchell.

Everything quickly fell into place, "but I think when things are meant to happen, they're meant to happen," Kreviazuk says. And "signing a record deal really doesn't mean that much because great songs are great songs. And having a record deal (a) won't make great songs or (b) won't necessarily sell them."

On "Colour Moving and Still," the songs have a broad range of tempos and lyrics, from playful to serious. "It's something I really strive for, to express many different parts of myself and my musical interests and abilities," she says. She also uses "spontaneous gems" of sound such as a door slam, a busy signal, and singing backward.

Kreviazuk asks a lot from her songwriting. "I'm the one who has to tour the songs and take them throughout the world and depend on them as a source of comfort and inspiration every evening when I get up on stage," she says.

When performing, she enjoys talking with the audience about her songs. The contemplative "Souls," for instance, was the only one she wrote on the road.

"I love to be really warm and intimate," she says. "[But] I have to tone the crowd down a bit because they feel like they have the run of the house. I have to pull back the reins because we aren't getting anything done ... we're all interacting too much!"

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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