A&E » Arts

Taking Joni on the road

A tribute to Joni Mitchell, Songs Are Like Tattoos, comes to Whistler as part of WAC's annual Performance Series



What : Songs Are Like Tattoos

When : Tuesday, Jan. 25, 8 p.m.

Where : Millennium Place

Cost : $24 for adults, $21 for students/seniors and $19 for WAC members

Some of Mia Sheard's earliest musical memories include listening to classical music, The Beatles, Frank Zappa and, of course, the iconic Canadian folk music icon, Joni Mitchell.

"Definitely, I remember colouring to 'Michelle' by The Beatles and singing along, and I think I was about three," the Toronto-based singer/songwriter recalled.

"I have older brothers and sisters, so Joni, as well, we played all the time. And as I got a little bit older, her songs just spoke to me; I would sit on the coach in my living room and just cry to 'Blue.'"

While it may seem like the epitome of teenage angst, Sheard began to truly relate to Mitchell's lyrical content and style, as she got older.

"I would say that any woman in music today probably might not realize it, but Joni paved the way for them," Sheard reflected.

Raised in an artistically inclined family (Mia is the sister of novelist Sarah Sheard and pianist John Sheard) she has definitely followed in their musical footsteps. Though she was classically trained at the Royal Conservatory of Music, Sheard cites influences like the Rheostatics, Ron Sexsmith and Joni Mitchell as central to her own pop style. To date, she has released three albums: "With Love and Squalor" in 1997, "Reptilian" two years later, in 1999, followed by "Anemone" in 2002, which featured Sheard with her working band, and a special guest, Ron Sexsmith, on one of the tracks.

Now, over eight years out from that last release, Sheard is hard at work on her fourth album.

"It's getting there. I had a kid after that," she explained.

"For me, it sort of sucked my ambition out - all of my creativity sort of went into her - so it took me a while to get that back and feel like I had something I wanted to say."

While most of the tracks have been recorded, Sheard still has to do her vocals and mix the album.

"I'm not in any hurry, really," she said, "God knows, it's been long enough! So I just want to be really happy with it before I release it."

So far, the project is shaping up to be very different from her past three albums.

"It's a lot happier, and maybe that's not so great; I think that's what happened to Sarah McLachlan, and my husband, who loves Sarah McLachlan, said that when her albums got happier, he didn't like them as much. I do like dark music a lot, but I would say this is not really as dark as I'm used to," Sheard mused.