Morgan Grace

June 22, 2022

Métis fiddle phenom reflects on first album release

Grace entertains the crowd at Métis Night with the Winnipeg Goldeyes.

Morgan Grace has spent years honing her skills on the fiddle and has taken her craft to the next level.

The Red River Métis left-handed fiddle phenom has played since she was four and just released her first album.

"There's a lot of traditional Métis tunes and some old-time dance tunes," she said of her self-titled album, Morgan Grace.

Coinciding with the release, Grace held an album launch party at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on May 28, which she said was a surreal experience.

"It was great, and I was so nervous," said Grace. "We had to move from the Garden of Contemplation to the (Bonnie and John) Buhler Hall, because we sold out of the space in the first room we had."

Grace and band perform during her album launch.

Around 200 tickets were sold for the event, which featured performances from Métis artists Michael Audette, Jason Lepine, Glenn Hewgill, Brandi Vezina, and Double the Trouble.

"Everyone we had there supported me and had an influence on my playing (style)," she said. "Also, in the band, we had Tom Dutiaume, Judy and Leroy Constant, and Dean Malcolm. Having their support means a lot too."

Grace's album has been a few years in the making. The fiddler started to record her project right before the COVID-19 pandemic began, but plans had to be changed. She was finally able to re-record in October 2021. The recording process spanned one weekend and around 16 hours.

"It was exciting. I was quite nervous, but we were working with Tom Dutiaume. So, he made it fun, comfortable, and easy to record."

Grace elaborated on what got her interested in the fiddle.

"Growing up, I always had music around the kitchen table, so I guess always hearing the music," she said. "A family friend, Glenn Hewgill, who was also playing at the release, who plays fiddle, inspired me to start playing."

Morgan Grace warms the crowd up during an MMF event in Selkirk.

The 15-year-old is no stranger to the stage, performing at many local festivals, the Winnipeg Jets' Winnipeg Aboriginal Sport Achievement Centre Night, and Métis Night with the Winnipeg Goldeyes. She fondly remembers one night in particular.

"At the end of January 2020, (we played) at the Winterlude festival in Ottawa, and I think that was one of my favourite places to play," she said. "All the support I had there (was a highlight), and it was just a great experience in general."

She is grateful to the Manitoba Métis Federation (MMF) for helping her out financially and making her a staple musician at many MMF events, from last summer's Winnipeg Art Gallery kickoff to Heartbeat of a Nation, to this year's National Indigenous Peoples Day in Selkirk, to name a few. This summer, Grace will be performing at local events such as the sākihiwē festival in Winnipeg, and the Whoop & Hollar Folk Festival in Portage la Prairie. There's one specific event that Grace is especially looking forward to attending this season.

"Something that's coming up this summer is we're playing the Ryan Keplin Summer Fest in North Dakota, which is exciting," she said.

The festival takes place from July 14-16 and features the hottest fiddle talent from around North America. Now that Grace has released her album, performing is her focus for the rest of the year.

"Just being able to keep playing (music), entertaining people," she said, "and I'm hoping to play at more festivals."

 


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