Rumours began to swirl throughout the Huntsville music scene, in late 2016, of a remarkable new singer. Immediately, her vocal prowess was legendary, and yet, Christina Hutt, who sings in a deeply soulful, emotionally resonant, quavering intonation, had only surfaced at a few open mics and charity events. Throughout those early halcyon days of Christina’s emerging career, her music was embraced by a wide range of devoted fans, and she found herself performing on stages large and small from Muskoka to Toronto. The trajectory of her rising stardom was curtailed in part by some industry challenges, some wrong turns she won’t discuss, and the forced two-year hiatus imposed by the pandemic.
Fast forward to May 2023, with the release of her second Ep, “Between the Knowing”, Christina has found a revitalized momentum, accompanied by some astounding musicians, and appears to be more in command and fully prepared to find the world audience for her soaring vocal talents and enthralling stage presence.
Despite her love of singing from a young age and a family connection to the arts, singers on her mother’s side, and stage actors Peter and William Hutt on her father’s, Christina was “painfully shy” outside of her family home. Although she gave some local recitals, she suppressed her deep artistic passions until she was thirty-five, by which time she had met her current partner Paul, an avid supporter and believer in her musical ability.
“I just couldn’t ignore it anymore. Every occupation I decided to try was never fulfilling to me. I found a safe place to land, and I still live there, and I have a great partner who is really supportive and I said I really want to try pursuing music. I started stepping on stages and open mics and every time I did, something would come out of it”, Christina explains.
Encouraged by audience responses, Christina released her first Ep, “Mirror, Mirror”, in 2017 and began touring in support of that set of songs. The most notable elements of her vocal gift are the timbre and operatic quality with which she presents a song. The sonic nuances she chooses to express herself are profoundly affecting, often bringing audiences close to tears, especially when she sings about loss and heartbreak—themes common to all of us.
Although she hasn’t purposefully modelled her approach from any other female vocalists, she has a deep admiration for Etta James, Patsy Cline and more importantly Serena Ryder, whom she finds has similar vocal qualities. “I love the old soul; I just love the old soul. Patsy Cline for me, is soul. That’s country but that’s soul and she’s so soul. Tina Turner was the very first… very inspired when I was four years old. I wanted to be Tina Turner”, Christina comments.
Armed with this eclectic set of inspirations, Christina has sought to bring her own aesthetic to her concerts and released music. Between her first Ep and her current release, Christina put out a definitive series of video songs that not only drew attention to her style but added gravitas to her skill as a songwriter.
Christina confronts some challenging themes in this series of songs. “Cracks and Crevices”, peers into the burden of depression; “I Should have Changed”, rather poignantly addresses the grip that the past holds.
With “Fifteen Shades”, Christina discovered a natural territory for her expression. In an homage to Pasty Cline, this song attracted listeners for its authentic roots-Americana feel and Christina’s vulnerable take on the storyline is riveting.
The collaborative team that surrounded Christina for the work on “Fifteen Shades”, Bet Smith and the Currie Brothers from Gravenhurst, continued work on their own projects while Christina transformed her garage into a modern practice and recording space. The pandemic interfered with plans for further progress.
Like so many other gifted singers, Christina encountered forces in the music industry that betrayed her trust and faith in what she hoped for. While she can’t reveal the details, Christina noticeably disappeared from the arch that her own success story brought about after “Fifteen Shades”, for almost a year or more. During this period, Christina doubted the possibility of her climbing up on stage again. After years of hard work, she found her confidence and belief in herself seriously compromised.
“The first Ep I did was just me needing to get some music out. This was just what I had on the table. This Ep represents so much more than just recorded songs. I had a profound betrayal that almost totally shut me down from pursuing music anymore. These songs, this recording really was beautiful because this was me healing from it. And having people like Sue Smith and Jeff Bird (Cowboy Junkies), that literally put their angel wings around me and reminded me of who I am, because I totally couldn’t see it anymore. We got together for five days, we wrote, we recorded…. So, these songs weren’t me trying to target any genre, it was just getting back up and being able to be free in my music, because I felt I had lost that freedom.”
Christina points out that the process of recording was so much more than an end in itself, but the means by which she overcame and resolved to set her feet firmly on her own musical journey. Christina Hutt has embraced 2023 with a renewed vigour and purposefulness, fronting a diverse collection of bands that include local legends Sean Cotton and Michael Lopez, nationally recognized Jeff Bird and Graham Powell, Paul Reddick and Gary Craig, showcasing her songs throughout central Ontario on a busy summer touring schedule.
Whatever awaits Christina Hutt down this road promises to be an exciting discovery that will find its way into the hearts of those who already love her sound and the many more that have yet to hear her.
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