Six months pregnant, Canada's Jill Barber prepares for big gigs then a hiatus | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Six months pregnant, Canada's Jill Barber prepares for big gigs then a hiatus

Juno-nominated Vancouver singer/songwriter Jill Barber talks about new album in Toronto on Tuesday, April 30, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
May 01, 2013 - 10:51 AM

TORONTO - Juno-nominated chanteuse Jill Barber has some of the biggest gigs of her career lined up this week — and, as she quips, they feel big in more ways than one.

"Because I'm pregnant right now, so I'm literally feeling bigger," she laughed on the sunny patio of a Toronto cafe this week. "To perform onstage, I feel a little more vulnerable or something.

"But I think that could be good. I think vulnerability onstage generally isn't a bad thing."

Even if she wasn't more than six months pregnant with her first child, Barber might feel daunted by the week's festivities.

On Thursday, she'll take the stage at Montreal's Metropolis — capacity 2,300 — followed by a Friday night engagement at Toronto's lushly historic Winter Garden Theatre, with a Saturday gig next in Bragg Creek, Alta.

And then the classification-defying singer will take the first real break of her career, a five-month reprieve from the road that she's entering with some trepidation.

"It's totally wild to me," says Barber, who's married to author and CBC-Radio personality Grant Lawrence. "To actually take a break is kind of scary, I guess, but good. I know it's not that long. But the other thing in my career is as an independent musician, it's so much about momentum, and I've always felt that too.

"Momentum is the kind of intangible thing that keeps my career headed forward," she added. "So to put the brakes on that, even if it's just a short time, feels unusual to me."

And it does feel like Barber is headed into her hiatus with the wind at her back.

An anglophone with a Francophile streak, she released her first French-language disc in January, and she says it's led to a surprising amount of new interest in Quebec while also satisfying existing fans of her stylishly retro vocal jazz.

Of course, assigning just one genre to Barber never tells the whole story. Over her decade-plus career, she's flitted through musical styles just as she's hop-scotched across the country (she was raised in Port Credit, Ont., found her musical voice as a university student in Kingston, Ont., established herself in Halifax and then spent the past five years in Vancouver).

"I have made records that have been a little bit country, a little bit folk, a little bit jazz, a little bit gospel, a little bit soulful, and it's nice on the one hand because I feel like I can make different types of records and not have it come as a big shock," said Barber, who has devised the term "smoky folkie" to describe her unique style.

"I want every record to sound distinct and have its own place and be its own chapter in my story."

And Barber, who's due in the summer, says handling her typical music duties while pregnant has been "no sweat."

"In fact, I feel like I could keep going for a couple months — I'm like, 'Oh, why did I cut it off so early?'" she said. "Because I happen to be really lucky. For me, pregnancy's been a total breeze. No issues, no morning sickness, none of the stuff that so many people suffer through.

"I've been joking recently ... it's amazing how it takes about nine months to (make) an album and also grow a human. And decidedly, it's way harder to make an album. Like growing a human is really no problem."

She's actually trying to do both at once. Restless in her downtime, Barber has been writing a lot lately — or, in her words, "trying to get an album in before the baby arrives."

The tunes she's working on are a little more acoustic, "down to earth." She's not sure what shape the songs will eventually take on an album — she sees the potential for elegantly sweeping arrangements, but also likes the idea of a simpler approach.

Either way, she says that while she's not writing songs about being pregnant or her impending motherhood, she's nonetheless been inspired by the changes in her life.

"I think that pregnancy has been good for creativity ... I've been a real homebody," she said. The songs she's writing are earthy, and "that might have something to do with being in nesting mode and being close to home.

"Even like a year ago, I'd be out going for cocktails and that was where my head was at. But now I'm planting seeds in the ground. There's definitely a shift in my state of mind, I guess, and that's affecting my creativity."

News from © The Canadian Press, 2013
The Canadian Press

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