Singing A New Song: Brandi Vezina Uses Her Teacher Voice and Singing Voice to be Heard
“I'm a woman who says and does what she wants,” declares Brandi Vezina, a Winnipeg-based Metis singer songwriter, speaker, animal advocate and teacher. “I definitely like creating music that's true to myself, that's sweet and gritty. It's just pieces and parts of my world that I want to sing about,” she explains.
She loves collaborating with other artists and creating songs from past relationships and experiences. Vezina describes her work as deep and sassy. Rejecting the pop country genre, she enjoys classic country and rock and roll. Growing up, her grandparents had a band and she was raised in a family of musicians who performed on the weekends.
“Music is like a spiritual experience”
Vezina’s mother gave birth as a twenty year old LPN and her journey inspired Vezina’s song Alberta Rose. The first person to graduate from college in her Metis family, she returned pregnant to her parent’s home and raised her daughter there for six years. There was a lot of drinking in her home and in her community.
Later, her mother got married and moved to the city. While some aspects of her childhood were magical, others were traumatic, given both parents in Vezina’s home were struggling with intergenerational trauma. She participated in sports and benefited from incredible teachers but even while active in student government and on the honour roll, she struggled with low self esteem. Her success was undercut by how she felt inside.
During her teen years, Vezina sang but while she loved it, she didn’t take it seriously. After high school she took a more traditional path, going to university to get an environmental science and teaching degree. In her early twenties, her aunt and grandmother both died by suicide and she drank instead of dealing with her grief. Through AA, counselling and ceremony, she was able to recover and finally grieve. Her sponsor and strong support system help her cope.
“Cultivating a support system has been the ultimate game changer in my life.”
Working full time as a teacher, eventually Vezina realized she wasn’t satisfied. “I was supposed to be happy, because I did all the things that society told me that I should do in order to have the income to be able to purchase the things I want, go on the trips I want, but I wasn't happy,” she recalls.
Believing she needed more out of life, Vezina got serious about her music and the music industry. “You could be the most talented, you could do all the things, but if you're playing in your basement, and you don't understand the music industry, you're not going to go where you want to go and it's so much work. But it's all worth it as the ball gets rolling,” she relays. In 2019, she released her first single and she’s recently reduced her teaching contract so she can make music more often.
“Nobody's going to give you anything, it's a business.”
As a teacher, she brought music and yoga into the classroom. Over the years, she’s seen funding and programs cut and resources reduced and she’s found it’s hard not to be able to meet the needs of her students. Unfortunately, even with a big heart and a love of relating to kids, her days of classroom teaching are over.
She had to go on sick leave from the mental health impacts of a semi truck crash and was left feeling like a failure, even as an award-winning educator. While she was away, Vezina was able to get therapy but realized the classroom was not the place for her. Literacy support has been a better fit, far from the overstimulating classroom noises.
Knowing what it is like to come to a crossroads in life where she needed to make a choice, her advice to people in similar conditions is “Fortune favours the brave.” It’s a sentiment in one of her new songs and she knows all too well how easy it can be to play things safe and live for the expectations of others. She also knows the physical toll that can take, from illness, pain, and headaches. Making a change meant listening to her body and she’s learned that money isn’t worth happiness, peace, or disruption to personal relationships.
“Your body is always going to alert you as to what's good, who's safe to be around, what is an experience you are starting to dread.”
Next on the horizon, Vezina is hoping to break into American and European markets with new music. She’s working hard on her animal advocacy, hoping to make an impact on the world. “I want peace in my life, peace in my home, peace in my heart and to just spread that wherever I go,” she smiles.
In the end, she wants to share the lessons she has learned along the way. She says, “Your spirit is your power… There's so many things in this world that tear your spirit apart, whether it's people, places, things… I would say learn to love yourself… It's time to just reclaim those sacred, beautiful parts of ourselves and have empathy for those who we've experienced a lot too.” Taking action on the climate crisis is something else she encourages, saying that it’s time to connect back to the earth and protect it.
As a woman who says and does what she wants, Brandi Vezina is creating sweet and gritty music that's true to herself. This Winnipeg-based Metis singer songwriter, speaker, animal advocate and teacher found her way out of the noise of the classroom and into a space where she could use her voice. Born of an Alberta Rose, she’s found what she needs to bloom.
Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.
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Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.