An Olympian singing gig for Rocky native

Rocky Mountain House native Sidney York just received an Olympic-sized signal that she made the right decision in switching from an opera to a folk singing career.

Indie artist Sidney York.

Indie artist Sidney York.

Rocky Mountain House native Sidney York just received an Olympic-sized signal that she made the right decision in switching from an opera to a folk singing career.

The 26-year-old up-and-coming indie artist is one of the performers selected to sing on the Alberta stage during the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

“It’s phenomenal to be there for that! It’s such an important event for Canada and the world,” said York, who feels honoured to be part of the experience.

She will perform during the Games on the Alberta House stage at the corner of Robson and Beatty Streets. York was included in a lineup that includes Corb Lund, Shane Yellowbird, Gord Bamford, Tim Hus and other provincial artists after her performance in the Untapped Alberta concert series last fall was noticed by Alberta Music Industry Association representatives in Calgary.

“I’ve been so supported by the Alberta music scene,” said the singer, who feels this reinforces her decision to return to her native province.

After graduating from high school in Rocky, York (then named Brandi Sidoryk), studied musical performance at the University of Toronto and then moved down under to attend the University of Melbourne, which is known for its strong classical program.

While she enjoyed singing opera in Australia, York realized what she loves best is songwriting and playing multiple instruments — she is adept at the guitar, piano, French horn, electric bass and banjo. She eventually decided to incorporate all these diverse skills into a folk singing career.

Since her real name was associated with opera, she created an new folk moniker — Sidney York is a near anagram of her last name, Sidoryk. And she embarked on a busy year of tour dates, videotapings and recording sessions.

York’s self-titled debut album was released last summer. Her brand of pop/folk music — which can now be viewed on video on the Bravo television station — is peppered with double meanings.

For instance, the tune Mortimer sounds like a song about an unsatisfactory relationship, but is actually about a clunker of a car she once owned. “With my music, there’s always a high degree of irony and everything tends to be tongue-in-cheek,” said the singer, who last fall kicked off a national Ladies that Like to Folk tour with fellow songwriters Kaley Bird and Amy Thiessen.

The three got along so well, they consider their tour a huge success, despite hitting some major obstacles. There was a major traffic accident in B.C., Bird caught the H1N1 virus on the road, and the performers were victims of a break-in in Montreal.

The latter was particularly heart-breaking, since the three folksingers had just parked their car to visit a coffee shop for 15 minutes when someone broke into the vehicle and stole Thiessen’s guitar, Bird’s identification, an expensive piece of York’s equipment called a loop pedal, as well as all her clothing and $1,000 of concert proceeds.

“Everybody just rallied around us,” recalled York, who credits Montreal musicians and corporations, such as Roots and Mac Cosmetics, for helping out.

“If you can have all those things go wrong and still feel it’s been a great tour, then we must have had some really great experiences,” she added, with a chuckle.

York’s CD is available from iTunes or from www.sidneyyork.com.

Another singer with a local connections will also be singing at the Olympics — this time on the Nova Scotia house stage.

Kim Wempe was born in Saskatchewan and now lives in Atlantic Canada, where she was just nominated for two east Coast Music Awards. But she’s a graduate of the Red Deer College music program and recorded her first album in Red Deer. One of her songs was featured on the Showtime Network show Crash and Burn.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com