For Jessica Heine, singing has always been a family affair.
She grew up in Edson, Alberta, as the middle child, and some of earliest memories are singing around town with her parents and two siblings like a non-touring Partridge Family. “We performed at all the concerts and fundraising events in town. Whenever there was something going on, we’d be there, singing a capella,” she recalls.
Her father’s a minister, so even though she was a shy child, she had plenty of opportunity in church to find and share her voice before performing on the big Edson streets. “We were still young enough that we didn’t totally know what was going on, and we just got up and did it.”
Heine wanted to write songs, too — before she could write. “I loved writing songs. Probably around two or three, I was saying to my mom, ‘Can you write this down for me?’ I don’t know where that comes from. My parents are both musicians, but I wouldn’t necessarily say that they were songwriters. But I was compelled to do it.” She kept doing it into high school, and started performing solo, until she “decided I was going to move to Edmonton and be a famous folk singer!” she laughs.
Her first stop to folk music fame was at the University of Alberta, where she got a degree in vocal classical performance — and expanded her musical family. For the first two years, she lived on campus at the Lutheran Student Centre, now called Luther Centre. There, she received performance opportunities and got to know people who’ve supported her music to this day. “And now they’re looking to do a fundraising event for their organization to help with their student house. It’s non-denominational housing for students, which is great for people coming from small towns like I did.”
Lutheran Campus Minstry Reverend and U of Chaplain Richard Reimer recalls “how after worship on Sunday nights our community went over to a local coffee shop where Jessica was performing at its open mic. We were amazed at the power of Jessica’s vocals and cheered her on. I think it was a significant part of her development as a folk singer, and she even served as President of the Lutheran Student Movement.”
This Saturday (September 17), at the Strathcona Community League, Heine will perform songs from her first three records, a few from her upcoming record, a couple covers, and “some stuff that I wrote when I was living in the student center, which I thought would be kind of neat.”
Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors for the fundraiser show at Strathcona Community League (10139 87 Avenue).