Singer Nicole Edwards can hold a note in two languages.
Inspired by her French first name, an Anglo-Ontarian is now Yukon’s francophile folk-rock diva.
Many agree Edwards has the most beautiful voice in Yukon.
“I’ve always loved singing,” says the young woman from South River, Ontario, who draws her inspiration from her family.
Her mother was a chorister, her father, a musician, and her grandmother played the harmonium.
“This musical heritage is an intrinsic part of me,” she says, although her talent was not immediately apparent.
As a teenager, she played flute and piano, but music would take a back seat to her first loves: acting and travel.
At 19, she took up the guitar, the instrument that would finally bring her early compositions to life – six years later.
“Before that, I was probably just too shy to write my own material,” she confides.
Edwards was living in Toronto when she recorded her first CD. Then, a member of her band invited her to Yukon for a visit.
“I felt like I fit in right away,” she says. “The artistic community here is very open to discovery and co-operation,” she says, indicating that, like her, many Yukon artists only found their calling later in life. Not surprisingly, Edwards settled down in Yukon where she also became known for her courage. It is her passion for music that enables her to transcend a debilitating illness.
“Yukon is a place that can give you the confidence to experiment,” she says, noting culture plays a big part in Yukoners’ lives.
“Even our very conservative government invests a lot in culture,” she adds.
Edwards now has three CDs to her credit, each with at least one song in French – a language she considers to be an inextricable part of Yukon culture.
It was even one the reasons Edwards decided to move to the territory.
“Here, I can live in both languages,” she notes, adding that it is all too easy to lose a language if not given the opportunity to use it. “Yukon’s francophone community is vibrant, welcoming, and generous in sharing its culture,” she says. This inclusive attitude makes her feel like a “very close friend of the family.”
In French, her voice is rich and supple. Yet, no less can be said of her vocals in English.
When she steps up to the mike to sing in her mother tongue, lightness and depth come together in perfect harmony. Nicole Edwards is an artist who embodies the true spirit of co-operation in Yukon culture, on stage and in life.
This article is excerpted from the second edition of a tourism brochure created by RDEE Yukon, the economic development branch of the Association franco-yukonnaise (AFY). You can get a copy of the brochure (in French) at the Centre de la francophonie in Whitehorse or at the tourism information centre in your