Beyond a Song host Rich Reardin interviews Canadian singer/songwriter Genevieve Charbonneau.

I wrote my first song at around age 9. I still remember it- it was inspired by the 80’s cartoon Gem and the Holograms– and it went something like this:
I don’t know what to do, All I can think about is you, I don’t know what to say
“cause I know you’ll want me to paaaayyyyyyy (intensely)
For what I’ve done,  It was wrong, oh it was wrong
Oh can’t you see  Oh can’t you see
And please, please, please forgive meeeeeeeeee!
And as you can see, I obviously had the gift from a young age (ha ha). I didn’t study music as a kid though- I studied dance and theatre. I was part of a touring dance company called Kidco in Victoria that performed jazz, modern, and ballet. But tap (with Sherry Black at was my favorite- I loved making rhythms with my feet.
I knew I was never going to be a professional dancer though- I didn’t have the perseverance or body type. I did star in a couple of professional Shakespeare productions though as a teen (with Kaleidoscope Theatre) and having been bitten by the theatre bug I went on to study acting at UVic.
After 3 years though I was feeling discouraged and all I wanted to do was travel. I loved acting but not all the drama that seemed to surround the theatre crowd. (If I had been cast consistently I might have taken quite a different path in life, but this is how these things unfold). I then embarked on an epic trip- first by van through the USA and Mexico, and then by boat around the world. My dear friend Zena and her brother Daniel (who became my partner on the trip) piled our bikes and camping gear into a huge 1980 Dodge van and zigzagged back and forth through Mexico for 8 months.
Then, running out of money, Daniel and I were hired aboard a 100 foot motor yacht on a world circumnavigation. approachingponza
We went from Panama to Australia, and then, a year later, from Italy to Florida. During that trip I bought a violin in Italy that I played sporadically and brought back with me. It was an amazing, gruelling, eye-opening adventure that made us love and appreciate foods of all kinds, people of all cultures, and, eventually, our starting place on Vancouver Island. When we returned, we were 3 months pregnant and desperate to put down roots.
A year later, we (me, Dan and our son Zylo, Zena and her then-partner Zane- yes, it’s a ridiculous amount of Z’s) purchased 10 bare acres in the mountains south of Cowichan Valley.
We spent the next 10 years slowly building eco-cabins, gardens, greenhouses, root cellar, pond, etc… it has been yet another, more creative, adventure and has been a life-changing and empowering undertaking. You can read all about it at Twisted Vine Farm. We also had two more little boys-collectively now having 4 boys on “the land”.
Throughout all this building and working we would often gather around the campfire to jam. Zane had taken up banjo and learned to clawhammer, and Zena had purchased a cheap stand-up bass. I had always played a little guitar (having got my first in grade 9) but now I started playing more. I had started singing in the Balkan Babes in Victoria upon our return from our boat adventure, and was feeling more confident with my singing (something I felt insecure about during my dance and theatre days). We enjoyed making music together, mostly old folk and old-time tunes.
One spring I went to a local show called “Cowgrass”, a showcase of bluegrass musicians from Cowichan and beyond. I left the show feeling inspired to write a song- I knew three chords. I could write pretty well. Why not? I went home picked up the guitar and wrote a few songs. Some were ok, some not so great, some pretty good…. the good ones the others learned and we jammed together around the campfire. The not-so-good ones I filed away in a binder. I wrote more. And once the house was completed and I had weaned my youngest baby, I felt a great creative chasm open up that let me write more and more, and start to be inspired to perform them.
I went to my first open stage in 2012, at the Cowichan Folk Guild. I was so nervous, but had brought Zane to help be back-up. I did 3 songs and left the hall feeling giddy. People seemed to like it! I did another open mic at the Duncan Showroom, this time bringing Zena with me. Longevity John, the eccentric owner, said “Where did you come from?” I started feeling more confident. I was asked to perform in a women’s songwriter showcase, play at the Duncan Summer Festival, play a few local events…
Longing for the harmony that I experienced in the Babes, I put together a band of women to accompany me on my songs. We call ourselves “Genevieve and the Wild Sundays”, as Sunday was our regular rehearsal day. We love working on the music, developing it, adding parts and harmony and texture. We have had ardent followers since our inception and it is a total joy to connect with people through my music.
Shortly after the “Wilds” (as we call ourselves for short) began performing, I began thinking about making an album. I knew we weren’t ready as a group, but I had started to be asked for a CD, and knew I had a great connection with my old friend Marc Atkinson. Updraft CoverMarc had recently built a beautiful recording studio at his home on Hornby Island, and we negotiated a partial work trade for studio time. I spent 10 days (my longest time away from my kids!) recording with Marc, doing 10 songs, and together we created an award-winning album I am so proud of. “Updraft” was released in July 2014 and has become a bit of a Cowichan hit. I made a music video in October of that year for the song “Farmer Ain’t in the Dell”, and it now has thousands of hits on Youtube.
I am so excited to go into the studio with the Wild  Sundays this fall, but I have enough songs for at least another whole album… not that I can afford to make another solo one yet! I feel grateful to have Daniel’s emotional and financial support (he did reno’s on Marc’s house for the studio time) and the freedom to create music.
In my spare time I still run a busy household, mothering my 3 boys and overseeing wwoofers on our farm. I love to cook and enjoy making fantastic meals for the many mouths that eat here. I work in the garden and spend a lot of time doing dishes, laundry and tidying up. I work part time at a local winery (Blue Grouse) which I love- pouring wine for happy folks and talking about it, and the valley. I also organize house concerts on our farm, and run a small mini-festival every summer called the Twisted Vine Jamboree.

Musical selections include
Wilderness, Maybe In The Morning, Not Enough Love, Farmer Ain't in the Dell, Dandelion Seeds, Fine Line, Lost Cel Phone Blues, You Could Never Be, Heart is a Tower 

For more information, visit BEYOND A SONG.COM