It was only last year that Jodi Pederson was singing about spending Christmas with you in her chart making song of the same name.
The catchy missive to the holiday season is still receiving a fair bit of airplay on radio across the country, and the Coldstream-raised recording artist is spending another Christmas with us, that is her hometown.
She is hosting her second annual Christmas concert Friday at the Powerhouse Theatre, and this time is sharing the stage with another talented singer-songwriter, Kelowna’s Leah West.
The two first connected through social media when they were both nominated in some of the same categories at this year’s B.C. Interior Music Awards.
“We became friendly online. It was a nice thing to come out of the awards because I really don’t like the competition aspect,” said West, who ended up taking home the People’s Choice Award at the BCIMAs.
A regular on the local music scene, with shows at Kelowna’s Park Alive as well as at Vernon’s Relay for the Life this past summer, West is an award-winning chanteuse known for her clear-as-crystal voice and catchy lyrics, which have captured her attention both locally and abroad.
The same could be said about Pederson.
“I think a similar vein runs through our styles.We’ve actually written some songs together. I went to Leah’s home in Kelowna, and we should have a few ready for the new year,” said Pederson, adding the women plan to perform a few songs together at their Christmas concert.
“We will perform mostly Christmas songs, but there will definitely be some of our original material,” said Pederson, who is jetting off for a six-month sojourn to Australia with her boyfriend Ben Taylor after the holidays.
This past year was a busy one for Pederson.
Besides the success of her Christmas with You single, which hit the 33rd spot on the charts across Canada, and is still getting play on iTunes, Pederson crammed into a van with Taylor and her cousin, Joel Pederson, and toured across the country.
The tour started in May, with Joel accompanying Pederson on stage, and together they performed in pubs, living rooms, and at festivals, and even had a supporting date with Halifax artist Jon Bryant in his hometown.
“We had a great response and a lot of support,” said Pederson.
Discovered by producer Jack Lenz of Lenz Entertainment when she was 17 years old, Pederson, also spent the early part of the year in Toronto working on her sophomore album and follow-up to 2009’s Seasons.
“I’m not done with the album yet,” she said. “I was one of the main producers on it, and as I’ve never produced to that scale before, so it took a lot of effort even though I had people help me. There is still a lot of work I want to do before I’ll feel the album is ready.”
West, who was born and raised in New Jersey and came to the Okanagan at the beckoning of a “nice Canadian boy,” in 2005, has also had an eventful year.
She has been splitting her time between the Okanagan and L.A. to work with producer Marty Rifkin (who has produced for the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Ryan Adams and LeAnn Rimes among others.)
Rifkin produced West’s 2009 album, Beyond Words, which was nominated for three B.C. Interior Music Awards, and received airplay internationally, with more than a million downloads via various social network outlets.
In fact one of the album’s singles, Spring, was so popular it was actually involved in a plagiarism scandal when a band from Slovakia used the song, claiming it was their own, in the Eurovision music contest, one of the biggest talent competitions in Europe.
“They put Slovakian words to it, but it was the same music, the same guitar riffs,” said West. “I was so angry at first. From our end we work hard, and people aren’t buying music as much they used to, it was like they were stealing my child.”
West decided not to pursue legal action although the producers of Eurovision were notified about the wrongdoing.
“As the weeks passed, I realized that everything in life is like a blessing in disguise. My fans came out of the woodwork to protest, and I realized how much support I had that I didn’t know was there. It was sweet in a way and a good educational experience. It also made me smart about how important it is to copyright your material.”
West has been writing like mad the past year for her next album, which she has recorded in L.A. and hopes to release in late spring.
With 11 songs planned for the album, she has seven more already recorded that are banked for her third album, which she will release in 2013/14 if all goes to plan.
“I’ve always written a lot and I hope my songs get better with time,” she said.
West is bringing along her band, which includes guitarist Tom Stinson, who teaches at the Vernon Community Music School, as well as Brigitte (who goes by her first name) on piano and keyboards, to her Vernon concert, while Pederson will be backed by guitarist Cory Myraas, Elaine Viel on keyboards, and Torsten Raupach on stand-up bass.
Special guests Windmills and members of the Kalamalka Choir will join the women, and the show is being catered by Party in the Kitchen, which owns the Joie Bistro in the Prestige Inn, who are preparing festive treats and hot chocolate, included in the ticket price.
A Christmas to Remember with Jodi Pederson and Leah West takes place at the Powerhouse Theatre in Vernon, Friday, Dec. 23. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. with music from 8 to 10 p.m. Tickets are $15 or five for $50, available at Joie Bistro, Wentworth Music in Vernon and Kelowna and online at www.leahwest.com/store.