Tuesday, 07 February 2012 11:07

Manitoba duo have had quite a journey, now on tour with Arden

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By Ryan Dahlman
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Country pop duo Keith and Renée are making a name for themselves.

They have proved good things come to those who wait, you make your breaks and networking through friends and family can sometimes be a benefit.

They will be making a bigger name for themselves amongst fans this month as they hit the road this month with none other than songstress Jann Arden.

In a cross-Canada tour, they will be in Western Canada in February including a stop at Medicine Hat’s Esplanade Feb. 25.

While the Manitoba duo have toured together for ten years, they are getting a sweet opportunity to hit the road with one of Canada’s most well known and successful singer/songwriters. For her part, Renée Lamoureux can’t wait for her music partner Keith Macpherson to hit the road with the Calgary-based star.

“It’s a given — I will be studying her,” said Lamoureux with a chuckle. “It’s the biggest tour we’ve ever been on…if there was an extra wish or goal, I would love to write a song with her. It’s going to be such an awesome experience.

“Touring with Jann Arden …wow, I’ve looked up to her for years.”

One could be slightly jealous of the experience they’ve enjoyed.

They have achieved some success. Their song Good Year off the Revolution album was chosen as Manitoba’s Homecoming 2010 official anthem song alongside Bachman Turner Overdrive’s ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’. They’ve released five albums so far with Best Day being coming out in the fall of 2011.

Their music has also been on TV, movies and commercials such as AT&T, Degrassi-programs, Canadian Idol, a Hallmark made for TV movie.

Macpherson is a full-time Moksha Yoga instructor and Renee operate Renee Leone Designs specializing in using recycled materials to make clothes and accessories.

Not too shabby for a couple who met through Lamoureux’s cousin. Lamoureux started her musical journey quite modestly. Growing up in a small Manitoba town with an interest in music and playing piano, Lamoureux sang in her church’s choir growing up. She obviously had a lot of talent and in 1997, her cousin told Lamoureux of this guy she knew at her church in another small Manitoba town not too far away who was an extremely talented musician himself and suggested they meet.

Unbeknownst to Lamoureux who was 20 at the time, the musician Keith MacPherson sat in her church one day to listen to her perform. They talked one day and quickly spent a day together jamming and writing songs. They hit if off and after a summer of songwriting and singing, MacPherson wanted to hit the road with her and go on tour. It was too much for Lamoureux who wanted to go to college and they parted ways at the end of that summer.

The next year, the singing bug hit, she needed a guitarist and the rest is history.

“I still sing in the choir and Keith still plays in the church band there,” added Lamoureux.

They harmonize well, even if their music taste differ greatly. They did a lot of touring, starting off as a four-piece band and now down to their current duo status.

Success didn’t come easy as they learned the hard way, large crowds weren’t going to come right oat.

“We had our first gig in Toronto at a place right across the street from MuchMusic (studios). I thought the place would be packed, like everyone would just show up. The only person who was there was the sound guy. So we performed for him and then had to pay him $100 to do his job.

“But there’s never a day I wanted to quit; it’s a business and there’s so much more into than I thought. The ‘boom!’ happens slowly.”

They toured for a while when one day a high school friend’s soon to be brother in law offered them a proposition. Craig Kielburger, a Canadian children’s activist and founder of Free The Children and co-founder of Me to We, offered them the opportunity to build houses in Kenya, an opportunity they both jumped at the chance at. They did that for two years. Lamoureux called that “rewarding” and put a lot of things in perspective for her.

“They are so grateful for what they have; they have a home and they appreciate it,” explained Lamoureux. “When I came back to Canada, I just appreciated simple things like running water and didn’t waste what we had.”

They continued to tour and then got another opportunity when a friend of theirs who happened to be the road manager Jann Arden’s suggested Arden join them for a night out.

It pays to be connected as the all got along and decided touring together would be a great idea.

All of it means more success and at the very least, another interesting part of their experiences together. All of the experiences provide a lot of perspective, enjoyment and undoubtedly, songwriting material. It has been quite a ride for Lamoureux.

“It’s been a great journey,” she agreed.

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