Oak Bluff’s Michelle Anseeuw gets her inspiration from the life of late American country singer Patsy Cline.
That inspiration has resulted in Anseeuw working to create a 90-minute show, Sweet Dreams of Patsy Cline, highlighting the acclaimed singer’s short life. Cline was killed in a plane crash in 1963 at age 30.
Over 50 years later, Anseeuw and musicians Ken Biegun, Jan Smith, Tony Wytinck and Karl Ratchinsky, as well as backup singers Neil and Karen Keep (they are brother and sister), are rehearsing for a performance at the LSCU Complex in La Salle on April 19. The group is called The InClines.
"I never thought that I’d ever be doing this," Anseeuw said.
She grew up in Sanford (her maiden name is Hogue), and remembers the house parties her parents held that always included live music. Although she didn’t have any formal musical training as a child, she said she sang for special occasions, but didn’t seek the limelight.
"I loved to do that (sing in public), but I was super nervous."
After marrying her husband Willy, Anseeuw had three sons and was a stay-at-home mom. She was ironing one day, singing away, without realizing Willy had come into the house and listening. When she saw him, she was very embarrassed, but he assured her she had a great voice and encouraged her to share it.
"So what does any beginning singer do? Hit the karaoke bars," she said.
After two years of singing at Winnipeg’s karaoke spots, Anseeuw gained enough confidence that she began entering singing contests. Her big step forward came when she approached Sanford musician David McKay, who was knowledgeable about the music business.
After he got a sense of Anseeuw’s vocal skills, the two decided to put a show together based on Patsy Cline’s life.
"I had just finished reading her book," Anseeuw recalled, adding it seemed like a good omen.
Rather than create a tribute type of show, Anseeuw researched Cline’s life before writing a script that includes a narrative and Cline’s best-known songs. She and McKay then gathered other rural musicians and formed InCLINEation.
Anseeuw said the group’s first big performance was at Club Regent in March 2002, and they became a regular feature in the casino’s musical lineup.
"We’ve had such a great relationship with them (the casino’s management)", Anseeuw said, adding that when she first began performing, there weren’t many local acts booked at Winnipeg casinos.
She attended A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline, one of the shows sanctioned by Cline’s estate, at Casino Regina, and was taking notes to try to uncover the element she felt was lacking in her band.
"It was the backup singers," she said. "They were part of the Nashville sound."
Her first backup singers were a pair of burly men, but she was surprised how much their voices helped enhance the band’s overall sound.
After 10 years, the band’s musicians decided to retire but Anseeuw wasn’t ready to stop performing. It was tough for her to put a new band together, but she’s happy with her new musicians and singers.
The show at the LSCU Complex opens with Domain cowboy artist and poet Diamond Doug Keith, whom Anseeuw said is a very talented performer.
She’s looking forward to testing the acoustics in the new community centre, saying there might be room for a small dance floor at the back.
Tickets for the show are $20 and available at the La Salle Co-op, Access Credit Union in Oak Bluff, La Salle Insurance at 30-2855 Pembina Hwy. and from Anseeuw at 204-895-1646 or firstname.lastname@example.org