After spending two years in Glasgow to complete her Master of Music Degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Jocelyn Pettit is back home in Squamish again. She will be sharing her joyful Celtic music with the Canadian audience at Coquitlam’s Festival Du Bois this year.
For over 30 years, Festival du Bois has been showcasing the music and culture from the francophone world in the community of Maillardville, Coquitlam. This year’s festival runs online from Apr. 16 to 30, 2021, bringing together musicians from all over the country.
“It is one of my favorite festivals and I am grateful for them to organize this event,” says Pettit. “With my band, we recorded a full-length set at the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam – it was the first time [in a while] we were all together in the same room… performing on stage.”
Weaving different influences
With a multicultural heritage from Scotland, Ireland, France, Switzerland and Malaysia on her mother’s side, Pettit says she loves all kinds of music and is inspired to weave different music influences into her own compositions. Both her father, Joel Pettit, and her mother, Siew Wan Khoo, are in her five-person band and play multiple instruments.
Pettit started playing the fiddle when she was eight years old after first hearing east coast Canadian music.
“I was really drawn to the energy and the joyful spirit of the music. It is a lot of fun and it is very danceable. I also dance, so they really go hand in hand,” she says.
After learning more about Cape Breton and French-Canadian music, Pettit also explored music from other Celtic regions including Brittany, France and Galicia, Spain.
“What makes Celtic music special is that it is dance music; it is all about the rhythm. It is about playing music that is traditionally for those celebratory occasions,” says Pettit.
A musical prodigy
The young musician released her first self-titled album debut when she was just 15 years old, the same year she played fiddle for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Since then, she has toured across Canada and all over the world including across the U.S., the U.K., Europe and Malaysia.
Pettit released her second album, Caravan, in 2015, an album inspired by memorable people and experiences from her travels. Both albums received multiple award nominations including World Artist of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.
She is currently working on her third album, Wind Rose, which is expected to be released later this year.
“This coming album is inspired by the two places I call home, Scotland and B.C. It is on the theme of navigation, a continuation of the same travel theme from my previous album. It is more original music,” says Pettit.
The musician says she usually begins with an initial seed of an idea that can come from any experience in life, maybe from traveling or even a long walk. She will then write the basic melody and from there expand to more in-depth musical arrangements, incorporating what other instruments are doing.
“Celtic music is definitely a living tradition; it does change and evolve, and I want to do more and more original materials and continue along that path to weave influences from my travels and other styles of music,” Pettit adds.
Aside from writing and performing, Pettit is also an educator, who teaches fiddle and step dance in her community and online. The young artist says she is trying to make the most out of the COVID-19 downtime. She is also working on an EP with American cello player Ellen Gira while learning new skills to create online shows for events.