- Jul 19, 2011
Over their fifteen years together Keith Macpherson and Renée Lamoureux have developed a truly unique musical partnership; one based as much on their mutual determination to realize their full potential as singer/songwriters as it is on their shared belief that – beyond entertaining people – music has the power to inspire positive change in the lives of others. “I think music effects people on a deeper level than they’re conscious of,” says Keith, “and, after hearing our songs, I hope people will have a more positive outlook on their own lives.”
That’s a major preoccupation on Keith and Renée’s fifth independent release, Best Day (2011). Characterized by compact arrangements, tight harmonies and the Manitoba-based duo’s habit of sharing lead vocal duties equally, the record dwells heavily on the strength that can be found in taking pleasure in the simple things in life – love, laughter and the willingness to live every day to the fullest. But although Best Day has its share of upbeat country rockers like ‘Party Going On,’ and love songs such as their latest single, ‘Missing You,’ all of Keith and Renée’s songs are underpinned by a recognition of the genuine challenges and occasional heartbreaks life can suddenly offer up, even to those most determined to find joy in every moment.
Recorded in Winnipeg with songwriter/producer, Chris Burke Gaffney (Chantal Kreviazuk, McMaster and James, Kyle Riabko), Best Day finds Keith and Renée exploring a style that owes as much to their folk roots as it does to the country music of artists like Miranda Lambert, Patty Griffin and Keith Urban. “Incorporating country music into our style has given us a fresh perspective and challenged us as songwriters,” Renée says, “but this is a very much a progression of our sound and a natural direction for us.”
It’s a direction they’ve continued to explore on recent trips to Nashville for co-writing sessions with Kathleen Higgins, Tebey Ottoh and Carolyn Dawn Johnson in preparation for their next record, but it’s also a product of their willingness to let their music evolve as they do; an ethic they credit as key to the longevity of their creative partnership.
That said, when they first met in Renée’s hometown just outside of Winnipeg, although they both felt their voices worked exceptionally well together, Renée wasn’t yet ready to set up shop as a duo and hit the road full time. The next year, however, while looking for a guitar player for an upcoming gig she reached out to Keith, and ultimately recognized how deeply connected they were musically. But even then, neither foresaw where that connection would lead them. “I never thought we’d still be doing this, or that one drive out to Île-des-Chênes would change the course of our lives,” says Keith.
Since, their music has been featured in North American promotions by AT&T and in television shows including Radio Free Roscoe, 15 Love and Degrassi: The Next Generation. More recently, in 2012, they were invited to perform at the CCMA Festival in Saskatoon and were awarded the Western Canadian Music Award for Country Recording of the Year for Best Day.
Keith and Renée have also toured North America extensively, performed in the UK and in Dubai, shared the stage with the likes of Jann Arden, Chad Brownlee, Dallas Smith and The Winnipeg Ballet, and even performed for Queen Elizabeth during her 2010 visit to Winnipeg. The duo also spent the summers of 2008/2009 in Kenya with Free The Children, working to improve infrastructure in various communities and performing for both their fellow volunteers and local villagers. During that time, their song ‘The One’ was chosen by David Suzuki as one of the tracks for his Playlist of the Planet CD. In short, they’ve put in their 10,000 hours and then some and are currently about to log some more time on the road in support of Canadian country superstar Dean Brody for the Ontario leg of the ‘Dirt’ tour in mid-February 2013.
Both have also spent time working apart; Keith, as a contestant on Canadian Idol (2006), and as a songwriter – recently penning a number one hit for Australia’s Jetty Road, and Renée, who released her debut solo effort, I Fall For You (2012), as a solo artist/performer in her own right.
Those experiences, however, have only served to deepen the musical connection and mutual respect Keith and Renée have for each other. “We’ve branched out,” Renée says, “but that’s just challenged us to become better songwriters and performers individually and made the confidence and the bond we have together even stronger.”