Julie Ann Bertram
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Julie Ann Bertram

Band Folk Adult Contemporary


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"IN-RETRO Magazine Feature"

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- Owen James Communications Inc.

"CD review: WOE IS ME"

Woe is Me is the kind of album that quietly changes you from what you thought you were into what you have always been. The stunning poetry extracts hope and joy from the darkest hours of human existence, making experiences like grief, fear and love shimmer with forgotten possibilities.

Julie Ann Bertram’s distinctive voice has an uncanny ability to get into the crevices of your consciousness and pry you open. Her dynamic pipes range from low and gravelly to a passionate intensity that is difficult to compare- think of Tom Waits and Jane Siberry with a touch of Bjork. It’s tempting to see something of both Nina Simone and Johnny Cash in the work of this unusual, accomplished storyteller. Her voice takes you on a jazzy meander through the underbelly, then turns mercurial, demonstrating her own anguishes.

The song Time is my favourite, a declaration of strength and power within helplessness. Julie takes us back to the importance of carefully crafting a song. Here, the body is truly a temple and she sings “the beating of my aching heart/speeding up the blood/rushing through my temples where I worship what I love…I’ve searched for the answers/they’re in your eyes…you can do whatever cause I’m not afraid to die.”

The album spans the whole of Bertram’s life up until now, and it’s clear where she loses any vestiges of self-consciousness. On A Love Song, anything that was held back floods through, revealing the soul full force – “you tried, I quit/you gave, I took/you searched and I just looked…” Bertram writes, reaching the apex of loss on the album: “you lied, I believed/you died, so I grieved…in a love song.” The velocity continues through Dreams, which showcases her voice and unusual instrumentation. Here she sings “Imagination creates the future we are living in…only in my dreams.”

Such personal revelations take the risk of self-absorption, but Bertram’s work doesn’t get stuck in her own story. Her narratives echo with ancient mythologies and universal archetypes, ferociously summoning power from the listener’s psyche. The whole album feels like a tonglen- the difficult Buddhist practice of carrying pain to produce compassion. Woe is me, with intricate accompaniment of guitar, sounds like folk-rock, yet conjures fully the blues. Named for a verse from Job in the Bible, Julie’s lamentations for the earth and its inhabitants resonates with the pulse of imagination, our planet’s only salvation.

- Lorette C. Luzajic


2007 - 'Woe is Me'

2004 - 'Ecstatic Songs'

1999 - 'JAB'



Julie left University to hitchhike with a tent and guitar, finding solitude in the wilderness and honing her artistry.

Back in home town Toronto, she received two first-place medals for guitar composition from the Royal Conservatory of Music (Peel Music Festival) and the Sylvia Tyson Songwriting Scholarship (CMPA)... was also a top finalist in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition and Lilith Fair’s Talent Search before releasing her first EP, JAB.

Touring in Denmark, she found an eager audience in Copenhagen... Refreshed and inspired, Julie released Ecstatic Songs- music accompanying the poetry of 13th century mystic poet, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (translations by Coleman Barks). Her latest award was the title of Best Acoustic Female Artist at the Toronto Independent Music Awards.