December 12th, 2007 by admin
In writing this interview I was poised with two options. I could write about this beautiful award winning actress/ playwright/ singer and the many accomplishments and awards she has earned. Andrea, with the help of her producer and co-writer Robert Walsh, have taken Canada by storm as this songstress forged a trail to fame with her enchanting voice and acting prowess. Most recently, her new TV series Rabbit Fall has become a favorite on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network with a second season on the horizon. I’ve viewed the show and am quite jealous that we don’t get APTN here in the States.
I could write about all of this, but there’s more to Andrea Menard beyond what you see on stage and screen.
Born in 1971 in Flin Flon, Manitoba from humble Métis roots, she reflected back to a time when she was a little girl. Her father was lovingly known as “The King of the Kitchen Party” since it was the norm for Métis families and friends to sing and enjoy the day; her mother was a singer as well with little Andrea singing back up. Andrea holds dear these memories of her youth and credits her family for planting the seeds that have blossomed into her rewarding career.
It was never her intention to become a singer since she never considered music as an occupation or something to get paid for. Music and singing was simply a part of her childhood and a very real part of the Métis way of life. From serving in the Canadian Army to being voted “Saskatoon’s Sexiest Female” by readers of Planet S Magazine, Andrea has come of age. She’s performed before His Royal Highness, The Earl of Wessex Prince Phillip; His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales; and yes, Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth just to name a few. Not bad for a little Native girl from Flin Flon eh.
As we discussed her career it became obvious there was yet another story or as I mentioned earlier, another option. I came to know her not only an accomplished performer but a driven woman. The love of her people became most apparent to me as she shared the inner Andrea Menard. Simply put, she had something to prove to the world. Though her career was in full swing, she had an agenda that many others would not have considered—she wanted to show the world that Native people were not relegated only to stereotypes and restrictive roles. And prove she has. Andrea has shattered this myth since she has excelled in genres never considered possible. The stereotypical Tontoesk imagery of “tom tom beating” Natives has forever been cast afoul.
Like concert pianist and music maven extraordinaire Rick Dakotah, Andrea has shown that Native people can achieve and excel in genres once not considered possible or allowable. Her talent has broken the constrictive mold cast around Native entertainers since time immemorial. In Canada, she has managed to cross the invisible racial barrier with her sultry jazz singing and breakthrough film, The Velvet Devil. Canadians of all ethnic origins and skin tone have come to love this wonderfully talented Métis girl. She truly has become a world class artist and the pride of the Métis Nation.
Ah, but there is more to this articulate songstress. As we enjoyed our conversation we began to share the innermost aspects of our personas. We began to share concepts of life and our spirituality. Truly aware of the times we live, Andrea was more than forthcoming about her desire to help humanity through her art. The lyrics of many of her songs tell stories of the realities within Native life. From tales of her childhood to ballads about the human condition, Andrea has become a messenger of hope and healing in the troubled times we live.
We joked about the contrast of the two of us. Andrea, the messenger of love and healing then me, the crusty hard bitten journalist—yet we share the same vision. She has called me her brother in spirit and after this interview I must agree. We are dedicated to making a positive difference within the First Nation and humanity as a whole. It was once said Andrea Menard was the Good Will Ambassador of the Métis Nation. I contend she is the Good Will Ambassador of Humanity.
As for me, I’m The Devil’s Advocate..lol
“I’m a jazz singer and a folk and country singer. But lots of people still don’t know that Aboriginal people touch every single genre of music. We’re not in one little category.” Andrea Menard