From Fannystelle to Kanye West: Harpist Janelle Nadeau comes home for special holiday concert

A Manitoba-raised harpist who has shared the stage with some of popular music’s biggest stars has come home for a special holiday concert.

Janelle Nadeau, who hails from tiny Fannystelle, Man., is performing Thursday at the Burton Cummings Theatre as part of A Prairie Christmas.

Nadeau – now based in British Columbia – has a star-studded resume, including performances with the likes of Kanye West, The Who, Pearl Jam, and others, but she told 680 CJOB she’s happy to be back in Manitoba for the holidays.


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“Christmas is the best,” she said. “My family loves music and they love Christmas. I think Winnipeg loves Christmas, so it just kind of came naturally.

“I’ve been lucky enough to be playing Christmas concerts since I was younger, so it just seemed like the right time and the right thing to do.”

Nadeau will be joined onstage by a trio of other critically-acclaimed classical artists, playing harp, violin, and a variety of medieval instruments. Although she said she’s passionate about traditional harp music, her career has taken her to some very unexpected places.

“I play all sorts of genres of music. I love playing classical music, I love playing Celtic music and Christmas music and all that stuff… but I basically like playing anything this instrument can play, and it’s probably because I was exposed to so many different kinds of music.”

Her role as a harpist-for-hire has led her from gigs where the harp is part of the background, to front-and-centre appearances, and it usually stems from a simple phone call.

“You get given the music, you show up, you rehearse, and then you go onstage with all of them,” she said.

“I just got a phone call one day, and they said ‘are you free for a gig?’… and that gig happened to be for Kanye. I was really glad I was free for that one… as well as all the other things I’ve been able to do.

“When I played for the Who, I was positive that most of what I played wasn’t heard, because it was so loud, but then other things, all you hear is the harp. It really depends on what the song is, how it’s orchestrated.”

Thursday’s show, however, is a collection of songs hand-picked by Nadeau and her group members.

“We created a concert we feel we’d want to go to – something that has music that we love, something that has music from our past.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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