An Okotoks musician who spends hours writing lyrics and strumming her guitar in the comfort of her bedroom never expected it would become the venue for her next concert.
With her computer set up for recording and twinkle lights in the background, 19-year-old country pop singer Brettyn Rose performed for the RPAC@Home Concert Series on April 29. The concert series kicked off two weeks ago with Okotoks singer/songwriter Dwight Forseth and his family.
“I usually practise in my bedroom, but playing a show in my bedroom is strange,” said Rose. “I’ve got it all set up and ready to go. I’m looking forward to it.”
Rose was the second performer in the Town of Okotoks’ free RPAC@Home Concert Series, which features a different musician every two weeks in an effort to continue providing entertainment throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while mass gatherings remain restricted.
“I’m really grateful I can still play a show and play music for people, so I’m really excited about it,” Rose said. “I’m really glad we’re able to have the technology we do and we can livestream on Facebook to still have that human connection with people. It’s so cool that the Town is allowing these concerts at home so we can still share music during these strange times.”
Rose performed a mixture of original and cover songs. Originals will include her singles All I Want Is You (2020) and Running out of Borrowed Time (2019) and covers will include her favourites by Dolly Parton, Bruce Springsteen and John Lennon.
“I want to spread the joy through music, so they’re songs I’m hoping people can connect with and will make them feel good,” she said. “I just have to imagine the audience being right in front of me because I love the face-to-face with people. It’s really important right now just to connect people with music and play some songs people would know, like classics, to brighten their day.”
It wasn't Rose’s first online experience. She participated in an online singer/songwriter round in March and was recently a special guest on a friend’s livestreaming session.
“This is important right now to bring people together for a sense of community,” she said. “I just want to connect with everyone and bring people together.”
Unable to perform in public due to social distancing regulations, Rose is keeping busy with songwriting.
“I feel this is a good time to recharge,” she said. “I usually write and gather inspiration from personal experiences. I always like to write from my feeling because I’m connected with that the most. It’s a good way to work through emotions, especially now when everything is so uncertain and there’s different emotions you feel every day.”
Rose is taking the time to work on her skills with the piano.
“I’ve been trying to do more songwriting on the piano and I want to incorporate the keyboard more in my life shows,” she said.
RPAC and event assistant Andrea Spiers came up with the idea for the concert series after the Town had to cancel the season’s remaining performances at the Rotary Performing Arts Centre due to social distancing regulations and mass gathering restrictions.
“With our buildings being closed, we wanted people to know the RPAC is still here and we wanted to provide this experience for our musicians and for the public,” said Spiers. “We still want to create the opportunity to perform, and having an online audience is the second best thing. We’re still live, but we’re just not live with everybody in the same room.”
Spiers said the series will feature Foothills and Calgary area musicians, with May’s shows already lined up and plans in the works for June and July.
Slated for May 13 is Okotoks folk singer/songwriter Hanna Taylor, who performed at last year’s Taste of Okotoks event.
Taylor said this will be her first livestream performance, adding that while people assume her generation is computer savvy she doesn’t fall into that stereotype.
“I’m really looking forward to it because it’s something I want to try out,” she said. “I love performing and this will be a way to have some semblance of that.”
Taylor will perform a combination of original and cover songs at Lineham House Galleries, which her mom Cheryl Taylor owns on Elma Street.
“I’m going to theme it around inspiring and upbeat songs to brighten up everyone’s day a little bit,” she said. “I imagine, after this, I will host quite a few of my own livestream concerts. I know multiple musicians have been doing this, it’s what they’re calling ‘quarantuned.’”