Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kreviazuk resigned to hearing other voices sing her songs

  • Print
Winnipeg-born Chantal Kreviazuk has penned songs for Drake and Kelly  Clarkson.

MICHELLE SIU / THE CANADIAN PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg-born Chantal Kreviazuk has penned songs for Drake and Kelly Clarkson.

TORONTO -- It's getting late in the evening at a Scarborough recording studio, and Chantal Kreviazuk and Grammy-winning producer Boi-1da, a.k.a. Matthew Samuels, are duelling on their laptops with such cheery back-and-forth one-upmanship, they could be going head-to-head in a computer game.

But instead of games, they're playing beats. And there's no trash-talk filling the air, just elaborately adorned soundscapes. In fact, as the pair dance to each other's creations, they swap genuine words of encouragement.

"That's cray!" enthuses Kreviazuk after hearing an unclaimed beat that could end up with one of the many hip-hop heavyweights who have collaborated with the 26-year-old.

When one of Kreviazuk's diverse creations blares free -- Samuels mimes the sweet swing of a baseball slugger. A home run, he's certain.

And it certainly wouldn't be Kreviazuk's first time clearing the bases. The 39-year-old, a one-time Canadian pop superstar in her own right, has found a second act crafting soaring hits for others: Drake, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Josh Groban, Hilary Duff and Mandy Moore among them.

She has songs on hold with Eminem and Kanye West. She has two prominent female household-name pop stars in a race to secure one of her tunes. She has a recent Top 10 hit to her name in the form of Pitbull and Christina Aguilera's Feel This Moment, and as a result of that song's feature placement among marketing for the NBA playoffs, she finally has a bit of cred with her three sons (whom she shares with rocker husband Raine Maida).

What she doesn't have is widespread credit for her creations among the general public. And the two-time Juno winner, whose solo career included multiple multi-platinum albums, has had to gradually come to terms with channelling her creativity into the charts in semi-anonymity.

"If I thought about that all the time, then that might really bother me," Kreviazuk said, perched in a chair in the well-appointed east Toronto studio.

"But you know what? I have a full, rich, complex life. And I'm happy and I'm challenged on so many levels, in and outside the music business and in and outside of my creative world.

"So you know, really, sure, do I want to scream from the mountaintops: 'Aiiee -- that's my song?' Well, my kids are in the house jumping and dancing to it when it comes on in the NBA, so I won. And that's all that matters to me -- is that I get to be a cool mom."

Kreviazuk takes obvious joy in her blossoming career, even if it's not the career she imagined for herself.

Sometimes, Kreviazuk might spend a week in a session with another producer or songwriter, trying to cook up ideas that could then be served up to any variety of artists. Sometimes, she'll write with a specific artist in mind, working on vague instructions on what they might be looking for.

In the case of Feel This Moment, Kreviazuk wrote the hook. She played the chorus's memorable chord progression on the piano and sometime-songwriting partner Nasri Atweh came up with the vocal melody. Next, someone in the room suggested nicking the keyboard riff from A-ha's Take On Me, and the blueprint for a hit cohered.

Almost immediately, the song was a smash for Pitbull and Aguilera.

For all Kreviazuk's success behind the scenes, the question remains: Why can't she sing and release any of these songs herself?

"A couple years ago, I was like: OK, this is a scary time in music. Nobody buys albums anymore. I'm not 'hip,' I'm not 'fresh off the whatever' anymore. What's my lane?"

She betrays no bitterness over the fact that a fickle industry would rather hear her songs filtered through other voices.

But she maintains her rightful pride in her versatile, vivacious voice, and she continues to hope for opportunities to have it heard. She relates a story about the making of Feel This Moment. Aguilera, for whatever reason, was not showing up to the studio to sing the song. Impatient, the powers-that-be began to discuss the possibility of having Kreviazuk sing it instead.

"And I guess they told her that, and she got in a car, she went over and she cut it," Kreviazuk says. "On the flip side, would the song have been a huge hit if Christina Aguilera hadn't sang it? Would they have picked it as the next single?

"We have to be realistic here, people. There's only one Christina Aguilera."

If Kreviazuk is a surrogate mother for the hit songs of other artists, her live shows are an opportunity for a welcome reunion.

Lately, Kreviazuk has opened her solo shows with an elegant interpretation of Feel This Moment. She finishes it in a hushed fashion quite alien from the South Beach cooler-spilling vibe of the original. Kreviazuk's version might not be punctuating LeBron James' dunks, but it packs a chilling jolt nonetheless.

"It's stunning," she says. "And that's my song! That gets to be my song for my whole life, because I get to go out and I get to play it for my audience.

"That is the best feeling in the world."

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 17, 2013 D3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Interview with Bobbi Ethier of Wasylycia-Leis campaign

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A gaggle of Canada geese goslings at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg Monday- See Project Honk Day 05- May 07, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose cools off Thursday in water at Omands Creek Park-See Bryksa 30 day goose challenge- Day 25– June 21, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Has the attack on Parliament hill shaken your faith in Canada's ability to protect its citizens from terrorist threats?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google