Linnea Good
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Linnea Good

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Linnea Good is standing on the deck of her Summerland home, gazing at the field of sheep below the yard and the mountains of Naramata on the far side of Lake Okanagan. Life in the small town is not new to her, but for this ex-pat Maritimer, the valley has become a place of balance against the fast pace of life on the road.

Married to percussionist David Jonsson, Linnea has 3 children (Patrick, born '97, Nicole '98 and Isaac '02), a tour itinerary that carries the whole family and music team to all corners of the country much of the year, nine albums and a following of devoted fans in most every English-speaking community in Canada, into the US, Australia and New Zealand.

The 42-year-old singer has come a long way from her Maritime roots. She was raised in Fredericton, NB, the oldest of 5 children born to Patricia and Frank Good. Music was a big part of home life; Linnea's father is an infamous local singer. "We were put to bed on Gilbert and Sullivan choruses." she says. " Mom could never figure out why we weren't able to sleep after lullaby time with Dad!"

At 12, Linnea was invited to sing in the local church choir and her future in music was sealed. "I guess the only way to rebel against a liberal upbringing was to join the church!" she laughs.

While forging a path into a world of music and religion, Linnea's work in the church influenced her to become an educator and activist. "For awhile, I thought I should be an Anglican priest. But mine was the last diocese in Canada to hold out against ordaining women. I spent so much time just trying to prove that women were people that I realised I had no idea what I really meant to do."

It took a move to Vancouver and a new community to help her discover what she was supposed to be doing with her life. She began work in a local United Church, leading youth and music. She immersed herself in creative forms of church leadership - an alternative drama troupe and song leading. "The drama was hilarious! We had WWF tag-team theological wrestling, we enacted God-the-Committee, we critiqued the church mercilessly. It was comedic dissidence."

Since that time in 1988, Linnea has produced 8 more albums, all received with increasing acclaim across Canada: There Is A Time (1990), Stickpeople (1993), Sunday Sessions (1996), I Know You (1996, Greatest of These (1998), Crazy Faith (1999) and Swimmin' Like a Bird (2003).

While based at Ryerson United in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, she saw her music make its way all over Canada and into the US and Australia. With sales toward 30,000 units, her albums are considered platinum in church circles. Five of her hymns are included in the denomination's hymnbook. Indeed, she has now been called the "contemporary musical voice of the United Church of Canada".

With the birth of her second child, Linnea left congregational work. "I needed to focus on two things: parenting and offering music to the wider community. I didn't expect to work in the congregation again." Her touring took her further afield, sales increased, the children flourished - "and by the time I turned around, I hadn't written anything but barking bath songs in 3 years!"

By the time she and David made the move to the Okanagan's small town of Summerland, Linnea realised that there was a balance that she was striving for - and missing. "I knew that moving here was a way of touching the ground again, but I didn't know just how the Okanagan was going to do that for me."

That answer has held some surprises. "I thought that leaving congregational work would free me up to be "creative", but in fact it just raised the bar on how many concerts I could make in a year. I thought I was meant to be singing in the big, wide world but really I just hadn't acknowledged what a solid home base the church is for me." At the invitation of Bill and Jan Laurie, Linnea took up the leadership of music at Westbank United Church, 30 minutes away. The work has her animating, composing, conducting, and reflecting on the Christian tradition in a new and profound way.

Scaling back the long distance touring somewhat, Good Company now makes forays into the prairie provinces and into neighbouring states to the south. Linnea leads children in musical expression at hometown Giant's Head Elementary School and is presently singing from her newest album, "Swimmin' Like a Bird." This one, not surprisingly, is for families. "I've been wishing for this album for a looooooooong time," she adds. The album garnered two major award nominations in 2004: the (national) Vibe faith Music Awards' Children's Album of the Year and the Western Canadian Music Awards' Outstanding Children's Recording.

" What a balancing act life is! I guess what I'm doing is slowly making myself at home here - in the Okanagan, in the Church, in my own life even. Still, on balance (which I'm not!), life is very rich."

© September 2004.