Six years is a long time in the music industry. While it seems like young artists are releasing quick singles every month for fear of losing relevance, adult contemporary/pop (with an edge!) singer-songwriter Chantal Hackett is on the edge of jumping back into her own show after half a dozen years. While still singing the National Anthem at sports games, doing guest performances, background vocals and cover songs, what kind of artist waits that long to release new original material in this digital age? One who builds their own company, that’s who.
The 31-year-old “artist-entrepreneur” is also the owner of Ottawa-based Sing House Studios, a music school meets artist development company. “A lot of the time, my new students are so hard on themselves when it comes to singing. It’s as if someone once told them that they can’t sing. But I believe that there is beauty in not being too perfect, but singing from the heart,” and Chantal is leading the charge with (I imagine) a sparkly pink banner.
Writing songs, with co-writers former student Alex Lacasse and Seth Desjardins, which you can hear on “Ready for the Fall – EP”, is no longer about “will [the songs] make it to radio?” But rather for herself, with the goal of being an inspiration to her peers and students. “Before this EP, my musical direction was all about pleasing others,” Chantal’s usual bubbly personality fades a little over the phone, before regaining strength. “Now, it’s about what I believe in, which is not having to change who you are musically to sell albums,” which is something she is demonstrating in living colour.
“I have some students who come up to me because they’ve entered a singing competition, and they’re asking ‘Chantal, what song should I sing? Does this one show off my vocal register enough?’ I tell them that they should choose a song they connect with – something that exposes their soul as artists – that is what music is all about and as how you can get people to connect to your art.”
When she was younger, Chantal’s goal was the big record deal; but what she realized as she continued her journey was “under all these big stars, there’s another part of the music industry, where you can have fans who love you for you. My mission is to educate my students that there are other options in the industry.”
Chantal always knew that she wanted to stay in Ottawa, an emerging music city; “Ready for the Fall” was recorded locally. A dollar from each ticket sold for her EP release show Saturday, May 6th 2017, will be going to the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition, a not-for-profit. Another dollar with go to the Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre, to help create more programs to victims of sexual assault, with her music’s theme of “being a strong female, the best you can be.”
In a state of constant improvement, Chantal makes a list of people who inspire her, then asks them out for coffee. One the people she met with recently was Tara Shannon, the head of Willow Sound Records, and singer-songwriter in her own right; “we meshed very well and that we both agreed that signing on with her would be the next step and that it felt right. Although I teach many people I now needed a cheerleader to cheer me on because even coaches need a coach.”
She’d already recorded the EP by the point the deal was offered, and is now working on stage presence and confidence building as an artist. “If people are really liking the sound [of “Ready for the Fall”], I’ll release a radio single with Willow Sound.” Other future plans include a opening a new SHS location in the Barrhaven area of town.
Photos by Scott Doubt