Two voices raised in song are far better than one.
That thought occurred to singer/guitarist Andrew James O’Brien the first time he heard the Catherine Allan sing.
He had been performing as a solo artist in his native Newfoundland, but after hearing Allan’s “incredible” voice, with its “amazing” tone, warmth and sincerity, at a private gathering in downtown St. John’s, he was compelled ask her to perform with him.
It was a great hunch. Six years later, the two are engaged to be married. And their duo, Fortunate Ones — which performs on Friday, April 22 at Fratters — received a Juno Award nomination for the debut album The Bliss.
Although the release lost out to Buffy Sainte-Marie’s Power in the Blood for Contemporary Roots Album of the Year, O’Brien considers losing to a legendary Canadian singer still a win in his books.
Besides being invited to the award ceremony in Calgary, he and Allan were asked to perform at the Juno gala dinner, where they met many influential people in the music industry. “When you get some face time with them, you hope they will remember you — but I think the performance is the most important thing,” said O’Brien.
Fortunate Ones, formed in 2013, won the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Award for Vocal Group of the Year. It’s also nominated for the 2016 International Folk Music Award for Artist of the Year.
The group has been gaining traction in Western Canada. “We’ve been making a big effort to get out (to Alberta) a few times and we’ve noticed that the crowds are getting bigger each time,” said O’Brien.
Allan, a pianist and accordion player from a musical family, and O’Brien, who made the 2011 solo album Songs for Searchers, both contribute vocals, music and songwriting on The Bliss. The album was produced by multi-East Coast Music Award winner Daniel Ledwell, and features guest appearances by East Coast favorites Jenn Grant, Don Brownrigg, and Kinley Dowling.
O’Brien noted the title track is about being happy no matter where you are in life — “even if you’re not where you expected to be.” People tend to gloss over their sadness and doubt, when both reflective emotions are necessary for achieving personal growth and appreciating better times, he said.
“Without sadness, there’s no wave to your joy.”
Although Allan and O’Brien have wedding plans, no date has been set because the musicians are so focused on touring.
“We’ve got to make hay while the sun shines,” said O’Brien, with a chuckle.
There’s a $10 cover for their 9 p.m. show.