Phyllis Sinclair
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Phyllis Sinclair

Thorhild, Alberta, Canada | SELF

Thorhild, Alberta, Canada | SELF
Solo Folk Singer/Songwriter

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It's six years since Canadian songbird, Phyllis Sinclair released her debut album, FENCEPOSTS AND STONES. A folk singer with soulful, expressive voice, Phyllis has written all the featured songs and she has drawn from person experineces as well as from people she has met and places she has been. The opening track, My Fishing Hole is a nostalgic backward glance to days of childhood when life was so much less complicted than it is today, a secret place of tranquillity which she recaptures so well. She manages to convey a feeling of yearning as she heads back to a place she loves in MY NORTHRN TOWN, as she does once again on the melodic ENCINITAS, while painting a vivid picture of MAIN STREET, wholly convincing as, with the eye of a painter, she manages to take in every small detail of a typical street in just about any town, anywhere. A chance meeting with an elderly lady who asks for her assistance in unloading her shopping trolly is the subject of THE MANICURE.Far from complaining about her gnarled and less than pretty hands, this lady holds them up as a testimony to a lifetime's toil and is proud of the many things they have turned temselves to during her long journey through a hard life.

ALBERTA ROSE recounts the life cycle of a pretty wild flower which unattended blooms every Spring, oblivious of the perceived hardships which us mortals encounter from one year to the next. There are convincing songs of small fishing ports, busy harbours and the men who make their living from the sea, made manifest in delicately crafted songs like WRECK OF THE DICTATOR and JEWELS ON THE CROWN OF SAINT JOHN. Phyllis captures the shock of receiving news of an unexpected tragedy, when there are no words to express the way one feels in LOST FOR WORDS, which anyone who has had such news broken to them will well understand. It is easy to condemn someone who has struggled to cope with marriage, children and countless other hardships all endured in silence for a long time and therefore not understood by others. Sometimes these, overcome by depression suddenly take the decision to leave everything behind them and attempt to make a new start far from the place they have known for years. This is the story of Mary Jo, and despite the level of the condemnation she suffers from those who do not appreciate her plight, she does at lease find someone like Phyllis Sinclair who is on her side.

Demonstrating her ability to cover a range of subjects, Phyllis relates the story of a World War II veteran who describes the harrowing time in which he was involved in the liberation of Holland in FOUR DAYS IN GRONINGEN. Phyllis has long been a champion of an aboriginal tribe in Canada who, for centuries had lived a peaceful, nomadic existence, fishing and hunting the Caribou as they wandered from place to place. The Federal Government supposedly became alarmed at the rapid decline in the number of Caribou and so, in 1957 they forced a large group of Sayisi Dene to move to the outskirts of Churchill, Manitoba in order to live a more settled existence. For a long while these unfortunates had to live in tents and makeshift shelters until the government eventually set up a proper housing project for them, but it was reported that almost a third of the people, unable to cope with this new way of life, and desperately unhappy died. Phyllis sings about this shameful period in the moving, SAYISI SONG.

Wholly acoustic, FATHOMLESS TALES FROM LEVIATHAN'S HOLE, is an admirable collection of songs sung by a lady of conviction. LK


- Laura Bethell


Phyllis Sinclair’s second CD compiles 12 original and intimate works, set mostly
in rural and small-town western Canada. Sinclair is a perceptive and
compassionate observer, using single events—some small, some catastrophic—to
reveal the essence of entire lifetimes. The album is rich with vernacular poetry,
written the way we talk, with rhythmic phrases that ease into music.
Sinclair’s most memorable work is Sayisi Song, telling the tale of the Sayisi Dene
of northern Manitoba. In 1956, the federal government forcibly removed the entire
population from their ancestral land—where they supposedly endangered the
caribou herds—to Churchill. They were housed in plywood shacks on swampland,
with no running water. Over the next 17 years, these once proud and resourceful
people lost one-third of their population, mainly to poverty and alcoholism. But
they then returned to the shores of Tadoule Lake, building 28 new log cabins and
struggling to reclaim their culture. This was a story of racism, oppression and
decimation, but also of resolve and hope, and Sayisi Song—like the entire album,
emphasizes those more inspirational themes:
- Legacy Magazine


Canadian Phyllis Sinclair is something of an unwritten page in Europe.
At home she's more familiar, at least for those who are into pop
ballads and folk music. Many appreciate her poetic lyrics. “Fathomless
Tales From Leviathan's Hole” is an excellent sequel to her debut album
“Fence Posts and Stones” (2006). The album contains twelve of her
own pieces, where Sinclair is backed by musicians at violin, bass,
mandolin and guitar, for example.

The song material is very powerful. Sinclair has a feeling for melodies
and atmosphere – pieces like ”Lost for Words”, ”Jewels on the Crown
of Saint John” and ”Four Days in Groningen” comes to mind. The lyrics
also stays with you, beautiful words about aging pictures of memories,
meetings with persons, distant places, continuous beauty. Genuine folk
music! - Hallandsposten


Phyllis Sinclair has just released her second album called, "Fathomless Tales from Leviathan's Hole". Her debut album "Fenceposts and Stones", received very good reviews and she has been nominated for several awards. Sinclair says that she writes to inspire hope to all those who listen, and somehow that description fits her. She composes and sings in the long tradition of American and Canadian singer-songwriters. She writes with good political and social awareness, but she also makes beautiful small portraits of people, places and things. For me as a Dutch person, the final song "Four Days in Groningen", about a man who tells about his participation in the liberation of Holland during WWII is a great finale of an intimate, personal and beautiful album. - Folk World, Eelco Schilder


With her second album, this Canadian installs herself in the great family of female singer-songwriters, and for very good reason. Raised by her mother and grandmother, this Cree woman started to write songs at the end of the 70's, but for a long time, she gave priority to family life and her journalist profession. It wasn't until 2003 that she recorded her first album, "Fenceposts and Stone", which received a warm welcome. Here she returns with twelve self composed songs. Elegantly produced by Stew Kirkwood, who plays a number of instruments including keyboard, pedal steel guitar, electric guitar. This album displays a folk, dyed in country-rock of good quality. Phyllis' very pure voice reminds me more of Judy Collins, and Mimi Farina than of Joan Baez.

If you're looking for the kinds of pretend folk which is being praised to the skies by some media, then this probably not going to suit your taste. BUT, if you're looking for the pleasure of a certain timeless classicism, then you should take a trip with Phyllis. - Le Cri Du Coyote


Amidst the merciless winter squalls that blast through the Hecate Straight, Herring fishermen from the port of Prince Rupert strive to earn a livng. There, on Mariner's Wall, numerous plaques remember those lost at sea. This harsh BC background inspired Phyllis Sinclair's profoundly moving North Coast Fisher Wife's Prayer - one of several stand out tracks on her positively impressive debut disc, Fence Posts and Stones. Sinclair, a former journalist with CBC radio once managed Prince Rupert's Ocean Fisheries gillnet fleet. She wrote North Coast Fisher Wife's Prayer as much for herself (her son worked as a deckhand), as for the numerous families she knew on the coast. "Every year there were fatalites," says Sinclair. "I thought about how I felt and how the wives must feel when their husbands go out to work in the fishing grounds - particularly in February when the winds are rough. That song was a prayer for the families, really, of those worked on the fishing grounds."

Born Cree and raised in Churchill, Manitoba, the Sincalir family moved to Winnipeg in 1967. There the then 13 year old discovered folk music on the radio through the songs of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Donovan. "There was something about folk music that went deep down inside and I gravitated to it." Members of the city's aboriginal community taught her to play guitar. Music, however remained more or less a hobby until 2003. Two concurrent event changed that: an invitation to sing at the Springboard Hoedown near Athabasca, Alberta, and a David Francey concert in that town. "I went (to his show)...his writing...I thought...wow that is such simple, from the heart, conversational, heres-what-happened, everyday-life-kind-of-writing. I hadn't heard that for a long time. I thought for the Hoedown I would write a song. I wrote Fence Posts and Stones. And from that point I kept writing."

And she tells numerous elegant tales about a cousin's harsh life on the streets (Hard Time Hannah) and the dignity of struggling prairie farmers (The Old Nine and Fence Posts and Stones). She includes a lullaby partially sung in Cree (Sleep Baby Blue Eyes). "I want to share my songs. Music is healing: Music is power. And the more good music we have the better off the world will be."

Roddy Campbell
Penguin Eggs Magazine
September 2006
- Penguin Eggs Magazine


Discography

2013 - Wishlist
2013 - At Last (Single)
2011 - Dreams of the Washerwomen
2008 - Fathomless Tales from Leviathan's Hole
2006 - Fence Posts and Stones
Produced by Stew Kirkwood

Reviews
View all at http://www.phyllissinclair.com/reviews.html


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Bio

2012 APCMA Female Entertainter of the Year Nominee
2011 Radio Canada International- Best New Recording by
a Canadian Artist
2011 CAMA Award - Best Folk Acoustic Album
2011 CAMA Award Nominee - Best Female Artist Nominee
2008 APCA Award Nominee - Best Songwriter

Distinguished by Maverick Magazine as "A Lady of Conviction", Canadian, Folk singer songwriter, Phyllis Sinclair has earned national and international attention for her songs of truth and triumph. Also referred to as "The Quiet Protestor", Sinclair works with a clear purpose, gracious sensitivity, and a definitive strength: a remarkable combination. Canada's premium Folk, Roots and World Beat magazine, Penguin Eggs described her song North Coast Fisher Wife's Prayer, from her 2006 debut album, Fence posts and Stones, as "positively impressive". This song was chosen as the featured folk song in this same issue. Also from this album, Hard Time Hannah, hit number one on the Canadian National Aboriginal Countdown for two consecutive weeks. In 2008, she recorded Fathomless Tales from Leviathan's Hole, an album that earned her a Canadian Aboriginal Music Award nomination for Best Folk Acoustic Album. From this album her song, The Manicure , was selected by Musicians with a Cause and the Moore Foundation to be included in their "More Life in the Years" CD compilation to raise support to fight Alzheimer's Disease. Her song was selected out of over 350,000 entries. In 2010 she embarked on he first international tour, the Australian Gold Coast Tour. This was followed by her Dreams of the Washerwoman UK Tour in 2011, so named after the release of her third album "Dreams of the Washerwomen". This album was selected by Radio Canada International's Brazilian sector as a best new recording by a Canadian artist, won a nomination for Best Folk Acoustic Album by the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards, and found Phyllis Sinclair in the company of Terri Clark and Taqak on the APCMA nomination list for Female Entertainer of the Year. Phyllis Sinclair's distinction lies in the rendering of diverse stories told through visually captivating lyrics, and a well crafted performances.

Band Members