Creating music – a family affair

Ginalina with band members Joseph Lam and Adam Thomas.| Photo by Carla Hedges.

Ginalina with band members Joseph Lam and Adam Thomas.| Photo by Carla Hedges.

Creating folk music for children is important for award-winning Vancouver-based artist Ginalina. Including her four young children in her creative process is also important for the singer, who considers them the source of her inspiration.

We hum songs over snack time together. We go to the recording studio together. We work through album design layout together. We sing and dance on stage together. It’s exhausting at times, hilarious at times, and it’s all pretty special,” says Ginalina, adding that she often pulls out her portable voice recorder when spending time with her children.

Seedlings of music

Ginalina, whose parents are from Taiwan, is proud to be Canadian-Taiwanese, to speak the language and to honour some of its traditions.

“My Asian background has its way of infusing into my life, my language, how I raise my kids, and I know it must influence my music as well. People can be understood through the things they say and do; sometimes it’s obvious and sometimes things are more subtle,” she says.

The musician grew up playing classical violin and loved to sing and write stories as a child.

“My grade six teacher teased that I filled up more composition books in a month than his entire class filled up in a year,” says Ginalina.

It was not until high school and university that she explored songwriting more intentionally as a way to express her thoughts and experiences, which she considers to be at the core of folk music.

“I played in empty stairwells, in coffee shops, on open stages and in the quiet of my room. I recorded a few albums to share with family and friends; it was just a part of who I was and what I did,” explains Ginalina.


Her first foray into crowdsourcing was Kickstarter, which enabled her to involve the community in her musical journey and the making of her album.

“It’s one thing to make great music. It’s a whole new game getting the music into people’s hands and into their ears and into their hearts. Crowdsourcing is one step to doing that and it helps that people know they were a big part of making this possible,” she says.

Ginalina admits she is not the most seasoned in terms of using social media, and that it took a while to figure out how much information to share without being too pushy.

Family folk music

Gina Lam.| Photo by Carla Hedges

Ginalina | Photo by Carla Hedges

Recently nominated for album of the year by the Canadian Folk Music Awards, Ginalina’s artistic goal has always been to write good, meaningful music, which she can share with her grandkids one day.

“It’s amazing to think that my music is being heard, spreading to more places and enriching more lives. It helps keep me focused to work hard on my dream to make excellent quality family folk music,” says Ginalina.

Most of her themes centre on family activities. Her first album focuses on beauty in the mundane: she took everyday activities of her family and wove them into musical backdrops to showcase the magic.

The second album, Forest Friends’ Nature Club, is about her family’s visits to British Columbia’s Pacific Spirit Regional Park. In her second album, she also includes songs in French because it is Canada’s second language, and a language her kids are learning.

Like other artists, Ginalina puts her personality and character into her work. Her music, she says, reflects her as a person: a silly mom, a structured thinker and a gentle spirit.

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