Emma Wright and Victoria Yeh Added to Rockin’ The Hall

Victoria Yeh

The Meaford Hall Cultural Foundation has just announced that two outstanding musicians, familiar to Meaford audiences, have been added to the cast of this year’s Rockin’ The Hall show, coming up on December 3rd.  Violinist Victoria Yeh and vocalist Emma Wright are two young women who have moved us with their exceptional talents.

Victoria was invited to Meaford by Chris Scerri early this year when he began his campaign to fill our town with great music.  She joined him at one of his Tuesday night open mic jams and everyone in the room sat up and took notice.  As a classically trained violinist, she knows how to pull emotion out of her instrument, but she has also been improvising since she was in high school.  That first night at The Leeky Canoe, everyone who came up on stage after she played with Chris asked if she would join them as well, and she added a real dimension to every song.  No matter what the style, she made it sound as if she’d been playing it forever.

Born in Winnipeg, her family had moved to Nepean before she started school.  The first time she saw someone playing the violin she didn’t know what it was, but she knew it was what she wanted to do. “When I was four,” she says, “I remember seeing someone playing violin on TV and immediately in my mind I thought ‘Oh! I need to do that!’.  I didn’t know how to ask for it because I didn’t know what it was called, and then a few days later my mother was flipping through the paper and there was a picture of a girl playing a violin and I was like I want to play that!”  That December her father bought her a scaled down violin.

Shortly after the family moved to Edmonton, when she was nine, she began taking lessons from Ranald Shean, one of the founders of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra.  He was her most influential teacher, training her right up to his death from cancer when she was sixteen.  He was so impressed by her talent that he continued to give her lessons after he had dropped all his other students and was suffering through his final days.

Music was her main passion but she steered away from further study at the University level, fearing that it might dampen her love of the instrument if she became too immersed in theory and in playing things that didn’t move her.  Instead she majored in business and played in a progressive rock band on the side.  Upon graduation she moved to Toronto in 2003 and continued her dual existence, working at IBM by day and playing by night.

By 2014 Violet Fusion, a band she had formed  with her husband, drummer Trevor Maybee , was making waves with their unique progressive rock that ranged from Jean-Luc Ponty to Toto.  It was becoming increasingly difficult to balance the two careers.

Fate intervened with a couple of cruel blows.  Her husband passed and just a few months later she was laid off from her job at IBM.  “That was my opportunity to make that drastic change and it had also reached a point in my musical career where it was becoming unmanageable to work full time and also to be performing essentially full time, so I just started performing full time for a living.”  Her ability to give life to music of any genre has helped her find a variety of gigs, including private and corporate events and shows like the one upcoming at Meaford Hall.

As with other friends that Chris has introduced to our town, she loves the area and returns often.  “I love the proximity of nature,” she says, I’m a big believer in the healing power of nature.  And the town has a great vibe.  You go downtown and it has a great community feel.  You don’t have the big box strip stores going on.”

Emma wrightEmma Wright feels the same way about Meaford and she has been a resident here since moving with her family from British Columbia at the age of two.  “Meaford is a great community,” she says, “everyone is so supportive of my singing.  It’s great living here, being on the water in the summer months and the ski hills in the winter. We are lucky to have such a beautiful place to live.”

Emma discovered her instrument, the voice, at the same age as Victoria discovered hers.  “When I was about 4 years old friends of my parents heard me singing in their basement when I was playing with their children. I used to sing all the time when I was little, my parents put me into lessons when I was about four and a half and I have been working hard ever since.”

Also like Victoria,Emma was lucky enough to find a tutor who is world class, except she found hers right here in the area, with vocal coach Tara McKenzie, of the McKenzie Blues Band.  “Tara Mackenzie my vocal coach has been a huge influence in my life, she has taught me from day one and has given me the confidence to keep singing.”  Now she has begun to take guitar lessons from Jayden Grahlman, another world class talent who just happens to live in the area.

Emma gave her first public performance when she was five, “at the CFOS Fund broadcast at the Roxy Theatre. I got up and sang 3 songs to help raise money for several charities. I was pretty scared but got my first standing ovation.”  Notably it was not the last.

“I’ve been so lucky to have so many opportunities at such a young age that I love them all. I have been in several musicals, sang in many competitions and performed at tons of charity events. As long as I am singing I am happy!”

Emma opened for Tyler Yarema and his Rhythm this year at the Canada Day celebration and when he took on the duties of musical director for Rockin’ The Hall he asked Chris if she could be added to the show.  She usually performs live with a pre-recorded backing track and one of the great features of this show at Meaford Hall is that she will be backed by some of the highly professional musicians who make up the cast.

It’s clear that Emma Wright is on a musical career path that will go places.  She has just recorded an original song, which she co-wrote with Doug Adams and David Rosenthal of Damage Entertainment, a music production company that has studios in Las Vegas and here locally at Lora Bay.  The track is currently being mastered in Las Vegas and Emma, along with the rest of us, is excitedly anticipating the final version.

The addition of these two outstanding young talents is going to make this year’s Christmas show gala even better.  As always it is an all-encompassing event which includes a Silent Auction.  This year for the first time, there is the opportunity for on-line bidding.  The auction opened yesterday and runs until Dec. 4th at 8 p.m.

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