New artist? That’s news to Basia Bulat’s fans. Although she was nominated for the Juno Awards’ New Artist of the Year award, Bulat’s supporters have followed the acoustic folk singer’s career for four years over two albums, a 2008 Polaris Music Prize nomination and tours that have criss-crossed Canada. But the Juno rule book describes artists as “new” so long as they’ve never been nominated before, and Bulat is happy to play the debutante.
“I don’t by any means think I’m some sort of crazy, famous, well-established act,” says the 27-year-old. “This is something that really makes my mom and grandma proud. It’s hard sometimes for your family when they’re really worried about you, and whether you’re going to be able to pay the rent.”
After the breakout year Bulat had in 2010, her family (and landlord) can rest easy. She spent last year touring her latest salt-of-the-earth collection of deeply felt folk songs, Heart of My Own, across Europe with Canadian baroque pop star Owen “Final Fantasy” Pallett. He also arranged eight of Bulat’s songs for performances with Symphony Nova Scotia and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra, which she’ll stage again on November 10th and 11th with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony.
Satisfying a lifelong dream, Bulat also played two shows in Poland last year, the country where her mother was raised by her seamstress grandmother Josephine. In the ’60s, Bulat’s grandmother never went a weekend without a new dress for the town dance, and she insisted her granddaughter uphold the family’s fashionista legacy. “She pre-approved my outfits for those two shows before I got on the plane,” Bulat says.
Along with recording Heart of My Own’s follow-up, Bulat will return to Poland in 2011 where she’ll record an album in Polish. She’s also been invited to collaborate with a known (but currently confidential) hip hop artist on a track. “It’s not only the most popular [genre of this time period], but I think it’s the most reflective,” she says of her interest in belting out hip hop hooks. It’s an agenda that leaves little time for finishing her master’s in English
at the University of Western Ontario. “That’s my secret shame,” she admits. “It’s really easy to let music take over.”
Tracks We Love: “Heart of My Own,” “Sugar and Spice”
FILED UNDER: Junos