Wednesday, 09 November 2016 07:09

Talented performer back into the sing of things: at Mauro's Nov. 18-19

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More often than not, many singers start out having a penchant for singing or playing a musical instrument at a young age. Their talent is encouraged and they improve from that point.

For Medicine Hat-area singer/songwriter Christie Kurpjuweit, it has not followed that script at all. Kurpjuweit who will be at Mauro’s located in Medicine Hat’s Riverside area Nov. 18-19 from 8 p.m.-12:30 a.m., says she didn’t start performing until she was in her teens  —and it wasn’t even singing.
“I was always the dancer, dance was my focus. At 14, I got my first guitar and took three years of lessons and otherwise just played at home and taught myself there,” explains Kurpjuweit. “I didn't even consider singing until I was closer to my twenties. I was very shy at the microphone and I thought ‘no way will I like a microphone.’
“I was very timid and nervous, but it was really fun; I had a few friends playing with me,” she explains saying she had a guitarist and someone who played an upright bass but found it was difficult to co-ordinate so now she plays solo. “I was scared out of my mind to do that first show.”
Kurpjuweit has played a lot of southeast Alberta venues such as Ye Olde Jar Bar in Veinerville, the Medalta Market and Jazzfest in Medicine Hat, as well as some popular local establishments. She tends to play more mellower songs, but will play some covers — the upbeat crowd pleasers per sé. One of the first such cover songs she learned was KT Tunstall’s Black Horse And The Cherry Tree.
She has taken some time off to have a family, but is now getting back into the local music scene and looks forward to playing at Mauro’s Nov. 11-12. She hasn’t pushed her career too hard up to this point, but now wants to see where it will go.
Growing up, her family was musical and artistic.She has one sister who has an acting degree from Rosebud School of the Arts, her brother has a music degree in education, plays saxophone and is teaching band, and her other sister still plays piano.
It wasn’t until an open mic event in 2010 in Medicine Hat that she was bitten by the musical bug after an appearance at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede’s summer Best of the Best show, including singing with local favourites Mahoney. She sung live on radio station MY96 a few years ago, but due to time and other commitments chose family over music. 
Kurpjuweit comes from a large family which is scattered throughout Medicine Hat and rural southeast Alberta. At first, her natural talent led her to take breakdancing, hip hop, and she took a couple of years of ballet (for technique) and did dance tours which led her to go on tours in Texas and Australia. She thought at the time it would lead her to do shows in New York.
It never panned out. She just didn’t think it would lead to a career and saw no future in it. Unless one owned a dance studio to teach or became an instructor, once a person reaches a certain age, there is nothing to progress to towards.
There was no “ah-ha” moment where she just dropped dancing and took up singing. There was a gradual phasing out of the focus on dance to learn how to properly play the guitar. The singing, didn’t come until later.
She took two years of guitar lessons at the Medicine Hat College and then a year at the United Conservatory of Music in Medicine Hat. She also took a year of singing lessons which Kurpjuweit describes as pretty “informal.”
The thought of singing solo scared her, but it wasn’t because she was shy.
“On stage dancing I was fine, I loved performances, we had a dance team at the church, I did the touring, it didn’t scare me so much. I loved to perform. I always try to challenge myself, I do it all the time, try something new, try to master it and always loved the thought of singing because I loved playing guitar so much, but I felt just playing guitar was kinda boring. I wanted to sing the songs I was playing. I started pushing myself by trying open mic,” she explains. “I just taught myself to sing. I just listen to what artists were doing and try to mimic them ... how are they getting that sound.”
Kurpjuweit spent a semester at Rosebud Theatre as a student. Her sister attended there and earned her degree in acting. Christie ended up helping to teach some dance, but it was there where her whole approach and motivation to add singing to her guitar work received a dramatic push.
While she liked the hamlet and its uniqueness and loved the people there, it did get a little depressing in the winter and she felt isolated. However, Kurpjuweit was blown away by a single performance from High River acoustic gospel singer Karla Adolphe.
“She’s an amazing artist,” says Kurpjuweit. “She came to Rosebud and did this in-house concert and it was beautiful. You know that feeling when you’re like just burning with passion because you just know that is what you want to do? It was my biggest inspiration moment and that’s what pushed me into (starting to add the vocal to the guitar. singing and guitar).
“I was at Rosebud and at that point I was still considered the dancer more. When I saw her perform I got connected with her  a little bit and I followed her music. That was the moment I felt like I want to do that.
“It was more personal, it wasn’t like watching a rock star (from afar). I got to know her well, she came over to my parents’ house when she was in Medicine Hat.”
What really blew Kurpjuweit out of the water was the fact she was able to get one of the guitars Adolphe was using. Now, playing the guitar that someone she admires and gave her the inspiration to continue her singing career is sheer motivation every day. Plus the joy of playing weddings, business functions, and any southeastern establishment is fun and she wants to see where it will lead. With the backing of a supportive husband and her artistic family, she’s excited what kind of cord she will strike with those who have heard her play and those she has yet to reach.

She will be performing:
The Market at Medalta Thurs Nov. 17th 5-8pm
Mauro's Italian Cafe & Bar. Sat. Nov. 19th 8-12am
The Market at Medalta Thurs Dec. 1st & 15th 5-8

Read 3266 times Last modified on Tuesday, 15 November 2016 06:04
Ryan Dahlman

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