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Alberta Mamas SkirtsAFire Festival Focus Artist – Renee McLachlan{+Giveaway}

I remember my Mom picking me up from school and on the way home she would sing her heart out to Whitney Houston, Bonnie Rait, or Etta James.

I remember listening to her practicing for gigs in the basement, her voice would fill the house. I remember watching her play shows and perform in musicals, she was and is captivating.

I was simultaneously drawn to singing and annoyed by it. I was in absolute awe of her but a part of me wanted to rebel which I imagine a lot of people can relate to. You look up to your parents but you want to find your own path in the world.

My Mom gave me a guitar when I was a teenager. She started playing when she was 12 years old – it was everything to her and she wanted the same for me. I opened the gift and was disappointed. That was not what I wanted so I ended up selling it to my little cousin. Most likely I spent the money on clothes at the mall. Ugh. I cringe at this memory.

I threw myself into dance and spent half of my waking hours everyday at the dance studio. I found my creative expression through my body and it was intoxicating.

Despite my creative nature, I went to university with the intention of getting my degree in biology. I thought that the only way I would ’succeed’ in life was to get a left brain dominated degree. It never even crossed my mind that it could be any other way. It took me 4 years to realize that science wasn’t my path.

It wasn’t until I dropped out of university that I felt this ache in my chest finally identify itself, a longing to sing and play music. My Mom, bless her, bought me another guitar. This time I welcomed it with open arms and started playing. Being out of school meant that my free time was actually mine to curate. I started writing music as a way to process all of the pain and joy that I was feeling at the time.

I ended up performing at open mics and eventually forming a duo with a friend. I found a new level of freedom in my voice and guitar and it was so necessary that I did it on my own terms.

When I was 25, I had a bad breakup, got aggressive skin cancer, and ended up moving back in with my Mom. At the time, she was in a band with my aunty and they would get together every week to practice at our house. Contrary to my experience as a kid, I felt this absolute yearning to sing with them. One day they casually asked me to sing the third harmony on a song they were writing. From there, I was hooked.

It makes me cry to reflect on this journey. I am grateful that I forged my own creative path and made the choices I did. It feels like an absolute miracle to be performing, touring, writing music, and collaborating with my Mom in this way.

Sometimes, when I tell people that I play music with my Mom, they say, ‘Aww! that’s cute,’ but the rebel in me says that it’s fucking powerful and miraculous, and it’s such a gift that we both love something so much and get to do it together as Mother and Daughter.

With Love,

Renee McLachlan

Renee will perform with her Mom, Wendy, at SkirtsAfire Festival’s Opening Ceremonies on Thursday, March 7, 5-7pm. Tickets by donation at the door.

Win 2 tickets to Her Night Out on Thursday, March 14th at 9pm: SkirtsAfire Festival’s MainStage performance of Deep Fried Curried Perogies by Michelle Todd. Every ticket will get a complimentary glass of wine and popcorn to enjoy during the show! We draw the tickets on February 18th!

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SkirtsAfire Festival is Edmonton’s only theatre and multidisciplinary arts festival featuring women, happening March 7-17 at various venues on Alberta Avenue and downtown. Visit for a full schedule of events.

This post was sponsored by the SkirtsAfire Society.