Five Questions With River North

With over 100,000+ streams on Spotify combined, multi-award-winning Toronto-based artists Heather Christine and Matt Zaddy have connected their life partnership into a formal musical one to release the debut single, “This Too Shall Pass” as folk duo River North.

“This song began as a poem written by my parents, who are both writers,” Heather shares. “They wrote it to express their emotions during the start of the lockdown when an entire generation was essentially isolated for fear of what the virus could do to older adults.”

“Their words inspired us to express what we’ve been thinking and feeling during these strange times,” Matt adds. “We wrote ‘This Too Shall Pass’ as a beacon of hope, and to remind us that many things have come before us — and passed.”

“That we will make it through this together,” they agree.

“We were privileged to have Wendy Solomon, a gifted cellist, join us on this performance,” Heather continues. “She has performed with so many wonderful acts — Robert Plant, Barbara Streisand, Lights, Rod Stewart, Dionne Warwick, Yes, Brian Wilson — so to have someone of her calibre and creativity really made the song feel that much more special.”

“From the start, Heather had a vision of featuring a cello on this song, and for good reason,” Matt says. “It came together quite naturally, and added a depth and emotion to the piece”

Check out “This Too Shall Pass” below and find out more about River North via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

Hi everyone!  We are River North, a Mississauga based folk duo made up of singer-songwriters Matt Zaddy & Heather Christine.  Together, we are partners in life and music.  We met through music as friends 10 years ago, and over time, formed a bond that became a life together.  We have performed together on each other’s projects for many years, singing to audiences all over Canada as large as 25,000.  We have been fortunate enough to open for acts such as K’Naan, Jim Cuddy, Tom Cochrane, and The Trews.  We decided that during COVID, we would write and release music as our duo.  This was long overdue.  We have been planning to do this for a long time, and we’re glad we finally did.

Tell us a bit about your music and writing style.

Our music blends both of our writing styles into a folk duo with vocal harmonies, and acoustic guitar as its main components.  Matt Zaddy has more of a folk-rock/rhythm & blues background, while Heather’s songwriting swings more towards soul/jazz/pop.  We come from very different musical worlds and bring our unique perspectives to create something personal, heartfelt, and hopefully, timeless.  For fans of The Civil Wars, You+Me, and The Fortunate Ones.  We were lucky that our vocals blend very naturally together, and create a powerful but soothing sound.

How are you keeping creative without shows? What are you spending your time on?

We have actually been very busy without having physical shows.  When lockdown happened, we adapted very quickly, broadcasting live concerts from home.  Both of us host a series of virtual open mics for our community and have been doing regular virtual concerts from home.  We’ve been fortunate to partner with some great organizations, such as The Rose Theatre in Brampton, Mississauga Culture, our own Mississauga Arts Council, and private sponsors.

We have taken on a great deal of music students as well, ranging from guitar to piano, to vocal, to theory.

During this time, we took it upon ourselves to do a series of socially distanced performances for seniors in our community.  Seniors were hit the hardest by COVID-19, and we felt a need to do our part to help those in needed it most.

Because of learning how to do record better audio/video, Matt has also been working with The Guitar Shop Canada in Port Credit, Mississauga, on a YouTube series of educational/entertainment videos.  Here’s the latest one.

If you were asked to suggest only one of your songs for someone to hear, which would it be?

Our new single: #ThisTooShallPass. We wrote this song based on a poem written by Heather’s parents when they were feeling isolated due to COVID.  It inspired us to think about our circumstances through these strange times, and to have hope: things like this have come before, and humanity has overcome them.  We will get through this – and this too shall pass.

You can check out the new video for #ThisTooShallPass here.

Canadian Beats is all about Canadian music, so who are your current favourite Canadian bands/ artists?

Heather: I’m a big fan of Laila Biali (Matt is too!), Laura Fernandez, Amanda Martinez, Michael Buble, Bill King, Carol Welsman, Diana Krall, Heather Bambrick, June Garber, and Mark Kelso.

Matt:  This is a long list!  As far as Canadian artists, my favourites range from many years ago, to modern artists, from many different genres.  I’m a huge fan of Lenny Breau and Neil Young.  I’m also a huge fan of Don Ross, Cryptopsy, Feist, Martyr, City & Colour, The End, Mark Pelli (Magic), Gorguts, Serena Ryder, Moneen, and Sean Pinchin.  I’m also a big fan of indie-folk artist FXRRVST, love their work.

We are both big fans of Great Big Sea, and each other’s music/solo releases under the names: Heather Christine, and Matt Zaddy.

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