Southwest Showcase patrons were treated to the voice of an angel when Lizzy Hoyt took the stage on October 8. Hoyt is a Canadian entertainer with a great talent of story-telling in her song writing rooted in the Celtic and Folk genre. Her songs about war-time are hauntingly beautiful — especially “White Feather” and “Vimy Ridge” (see more about these songs further into the story).
This concert was the first in the 2019-2020 Southwest Showcase series and what a way to start! Hoyt brings Canadian music to life and was just wrapping up a western Canadian tour in which she travels with two other musicians —Chris Tabbert (Acoustic Guitar and Mandolin) and Keith Remple (Upright Bass and harmony vocals).
The trio presented both original and traditional numbers, highlighting Hoyt’s most recent album “New Lady On The Prairie”. The song with the same name (New Lady On The Prairie) was inspired by her grandmother’s stories — including about her Aunt Belle who was the first one in the family to immigrate from Ireland. The song resonates with all the women who came to the Canadian prairies and bravely faced the harsh realities of life at that time.
Hoyt wrote “Next To Me” for her husband of 14 years. “The Pantheon” is based on important people in French history, commemorating the people that hid Jews in WWII as part of the Resistance and about Marie Curie – the first woman to win a Nobel prize, the only woman to win a Nobel prize twice and the only woman to win a Nobel prize in two scientific fields - Physics and Chemistry.
One of the stories Hoyt’s grandma told her was about Ireland in WWI. If men were given a white feather, it meant they were a coward. This song told about a man that was studying to be a doctor and was only months from completing his studies. His girlfriend thought him a coward not to be going to war so this man enlisted, went to France and was killed at the Battle of The Somme. You could literally hear a pin drop during the performance of “The White Feather”.
Hoyt invited the audience to sing along to the well-known Irish tune “Loch Lomond” to end the first set.
The trio performed a couple of instrumental medleys, showcasing their musicality. Hoyt is a huge fan of Dolly Parton’s work and she performed “Jolene” on the Celtic harp.
This was followed by an incredibly moving piece – “Vimy Ridge”. “When I was studying in France as an exchange student, we visited the WWI Vimy Ridge Memorial and it was life-changing. It was an amazing day – we walked through the trenches and tunnels. Walking through the tunnels was very moving. The tunnels were small and cramped – just wide enough for two men carrying guns to pass each other. I saw marks that individual soldiers had carved into the walls as they waited below ground on the night before the battle and could not imagine what those hours must have been like. Thousands of men filled the tunnels on the evening of April 8 and their only refuge from these cramped conditions would be a walk through no-man’s land in a cold, wet blizzard he following morning. I was inspired to write the song “Vimy Ridge” and was so honoured to be asked to sing it at the 95th anniversary in 2012.
A man – Mr. Devloo gave Hoyt and her friends a ride from Arras to the Memorial and back. She later learned that every day he looks for Canadian tourists and offers them a ride to the monument. When a reporter asked why he dies this he simply replied – “Because the Canadians came for him – twice.”
Prior to the conclusion of the concert, Hoyt gratefully thanked Linda Watson and the Southwest Showcase committee. “Canadian artists are very grateful for these opportunities to showcase their work across the country. “Also, thank you to Peggy for the homemade dinner – it helped us to feel really welcome.”
Following a lengthy standing ovation, Hoyt performed “Danny Boy”. It is safe to say there weren’t too many dry eyes and people were heard saying after that it was the best rendition they had ever heard. It was a memorable way to end amazing concert.