For Ella Korth, Talel McBriar and Grace Clark, their vocal harmonies and friendship seem inseparable.
Their enjoyment of each other, as people and as musicians, will shine in a streamed performance on April 29 at the Capitol Theatre. The trio performs under the name Talel, Ella and Grace.
All three are songwriters and instrumentalists, and the performance will feature many new original songs, accompanied by their guitars and violin, highlighted by their distinctive harmonies.
Korth and McBriar were friends at Trafalgar Middle School. When they moved to L.V. Rogers Secondary their friendship became musical.
“We started playing together just for fun in high school, because we were just hanging out as friends,” says Korth. “Then we started performing.”
They spent their high school years learning and experimenting with playing guitar, writing songs, and exploring vocal harmonies.
While still in high school, Korth took a trip to North Carolina to immerse herself in the bluegrass and old-time music scene there. Korth and McBriar then got a Halifax-to-Vancouver gig on the Via Rail passenger train, playing for the passengers every day as they rolled across the country.
Meanwhile, Clark was growing up in Whitehorse, playing fiddle and piano with her sisters, and she started singing in high school. She moved to Nelson to take the music program at Selkirk College, from which she has just graduated.
“And that’s where I met Talel,” she says. “We met each other on the first day, and in that same week we started playing and singing together.”
The three friends bring different influences and interests to their shared stage.
McBriar says she’s a songwriter at heart.
“Lyrics are the biggest thing for me – poetry mixed in with music,” she says.
Korth’s main influence is bluegrass.
“My father (Craig Korth) is a bluegrass musician and so is my mom (Julie Kerr),” says Korth. “I was dragged along to a lot of bluegrass events growing up, so it kind of happened to me before I really began to chase after it.”
Clark says she’s more of a pop or indie musician than the other two, “but then I also really like having that folky fiddle vibe.”
Korth says she is continually energized by her two friends.
“Talel and Grace are both playing a lot all the time,” she says. “Every time I see them, they’ve written a whole bunch of new songs, they have a whole bunch of new ideas. So there’s a lot of energy that I really like to be around. It’s exciting. And they let me go crazy on guitar and try some wacky ideas.”
Seventeen-year-old Nelson singer-songwriter Sapphire Guthrie will open the show.
“She is a few years younger than us,” says Korth. “We saw her perform at a high school talent show and loved her music.”
All four women have been members of Allison Girvan’s youth choir Corazón.
“I’m so excited to see these four in action,” Girvan says. “I’ve been working with Sapphire throughout this year and there is no way the lyrics she writes should be coming from someone who has been on the planet for so little time. And it has been a long time since I’ve had the privilege of hearing Talel, Ella and Grace. I can’t wait to hear what they’ve been up to.”
Because Korth, McBriar and Clark have been in school during the pandemic – Korth is an online student at Quest University in Squamish – they have been somewhat shielded from the disappearance of regular gigs. In fact, the pandemic has had a few positive outcomes for them.
“I don’t think I would have written the songs I have, in the past few months, without the pandemic,” says McBriar. “It’s brought up some emotions that I didn’t know, some lyrics that I didn’t know were really there.”
She and Clark both agree that being in music school, even though it has been online, has pushed their creativity, regardless of what’s happening in the outside world.
Korth says the pandemic has allowed her to practice more.
“But I really miss having a music community because I feel like that just vanished for me overnight. I used to go to festivals in the summer and over the winter sometimes, and most of that was in the U.S. So that’s just kind of gone.”
Without the pandemic Korth says she might not be playing the Capitol Theatre, at least not for a few more years, and she’s played some live streams that have probably reached more people than if she’d just had a live audience in Nelson.
“So it’s accelerated where I’ve gotten to in certain ways, and really slowed me down in other ways.”
Tickets for the streamed performance can be purchased online at www.capitoltheatre.ca and the performance will be available to view for one week after the premiere date.