Amy Cunningham will be performing Saturday and Sunday at the second annual Wild Salmon Festival at the Freedom Flight Park near Lumby.
Cunningham is a Canadian musician and performer with 10 years experience as a professional, and a passion for singing and performing strait from her soul. She is travelling with a hot fiddle player and banjo player.
In the fall of 2010, Cunningham began recording her first commercially available album entitled To the Stars We’ll Return produced by talented Vancouver Island local, Corwin Fox.
It features the beautiful Dobro (guitar) stylings of Doug Cox and percussion and saxophones by Jake Jenne, along with a slew of other talented B.C. musicians. It has just been released and will be available at the festival.
In her younger years, she would sit in the front seat with her dad and sing her heart out along with James Taylor, Eric Clapton, Carole King, and Tom Cochrane.
Cunningham comes from a family of musicians, and her grandfather is an accomplished guitar player who would sit in with acts such as Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash when they toured through Toronto.
“All of our family gatherings involved grandpa and dad on guitar, and the rest of us singing. My cousins and brother and I were all inspired to pick up instruments born of that influence,” said Cunningham.
Writing and performing for as long as she remembers, Cunningham fronted a popular local band in the Niagra region during her university years.
She would play sold-out shows for enthusiastic audiences every week sharing the stage with many talented musicians, and opening for acts like Jeremy Fisher, Sam Roberts, and Craig Cardiff.
“When Amy sings, people stop and listen. I have seen it many times, in many different places. There’s a hold that her voice has on people,” said former band-mate Rachel McBride.
“There’s something about its purity and soul that makes you want to listen and connect with her.”
While writing her masters degree thesis, she was drawn west.
“I was blessed to do some of my data collection in Vancouver and Hawaii. I studied the facilitation of group drumming; these amazing people who shared their spirits and taught people that everyone can create music in some capacity,” she said.
“I had always wished others could experience how great it feels to make music with others, and I tapped into this wonderful community that was dedicated to teaching others to let go, play, and connect to themselves and each other through music.”
Cunningham facilitates and teaches hand drumming to the youth groups she works with, and loves watching the barriers come down.
“My mom says I was singing before I was talking. I don’t remember ever deciding to be a musician, it was just always pouring out of me,” she said passionately.
“Music is in me, and it pretty much always wants out.” It is obvious that this is a dream that Cunningham has been living and moving toward her whole life. At the same time there is a fresh feeling that she’s only just begun.
The Wild Salmon Festival runs from today to Sunday. Go to www.wildsalmonfestival.ca.