Music is love: Singer striving for success By Martin Boyce

OTTAWA - The red record button flashes on as she pauses, then softly sings her song. Grasping for air, she transitions from high to low note, slowly bringing the music to a quiet close.

Satisfied with her work, Annabelle Gardam saves her recording and prepares it for upload.

As a third year University of Ottawa student studying Communications and French, for her, singing is a coping mechanism. When she’s scared or stressed, she sings; her passion calms her down and relaxes her nerves. She just wishes she could sing more.

"I feel guilty when I'm doing something I love because I'm supposed to be studying," she said.

Getting started

As a child, she was terrified of skiing but had to with her family, nonetheless. Singing relieved the anxiety she felt from the cold, breezy wind thrashing against her face as she skied. “I stop thinking about everything that’s happening and just focus,” the Toronto native said.

It wasn’t skiing, however, that made singing a prominent part of her life. More than 10 years ago, her sister’s friend gave her the confidence boost she needed to ask her parents for vocal lessons. Who would have guessed a simple compliment about a nine-year-old’s rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star would play such an influential role in a girl’s life? It was at that moment, Gardam truly thought she could be a good singer.

“I was like ‘Oh, maybe I should try seeing where this goes.’,” she said. Vocal lessons were just the first step. She joined the school choir then worked her way up to singing at coffee houses, before acting and performing in Anne of Green Gables in her senior year.

Staying comfortable

Her confident delivery offers no hint of her inner worry – forgetting the next lyric. It’s not performing in front of a large Disney crowd of 500 people that makes her nervous but instead, the 10-word verse that follows.

"I stop thinking about everything that’s happening and just focus." - Annabelle Gardam, Singer.

Gardam thrives by practicing in the comfort of her own room because she can keep the lyrics close by. She sings with the words tucked to her side, glancing at them periodically. With her self-described “awful memory,” sitting at her desk with her microphone, alone, is much less daunting.

She prefers singing soft pop songs and turning them into slow, smooth jazz. The slower the song, the more she feels she’s able to massage the beat with her voice and make it her own. She’s most experienced, however, in musical theatre. Even with more up-beat songs, like with musical theatre, she prefers them to be slow.

“If I’m singing too fast it just sounds like I’m talking or rapping really badly,” she said.

Gardam prefers to change some original notes to make her music different.

Moving forward

As an aspiring singer, Gardam periodically posts her recordings to her Facebook and YouTube. Generating over 1,200 views of her cover of Can't Help Falling in Love by Elvis Presley, she hopes posting more frequently will help get her voice out there, and generate even more views.

“I was very surprised when I saw that I got that many views,” she said.

In another effort to progress her singing aspirations, she auditioned for La Voix (Quebec version of The Voice) singing competition. “It was a crazy experience,” she said, “but I was a bit nervous so that made my voice a bit shaky.” She isn’t too confident she will be selected for the competition, but she says she will try again next year if she isn’t.

The young singer hasn’t taken vocal lessons since high school but says she might start again in order to move forward in the competition next year. This constant dedication to improving is evident when she practices; she begins her song again if she feels there’s something to fix.

“I was very surprised when I saw that I got that many views.” - Annabelle Gardam, Singer

“She never missed an opportunity to get involved in activities where she could sing,” said her sister, Olivia, who attributes her own confidence to following her big sister’s examples. “I always thought she was really brave to be able to stand up in front of strangers and showcase her singing.”

Gardam gets her musical talent from her family, she says. While education has always been her priority, being a singer has never been out of the picture. “I love it,” she said, “It’s is a huge part of my life.” She knows it won’t be easy, but she would love to follow in her family’s footsteps.

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Martin Boyce


Martin Boyce

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