Shy Rural Schoolgirl Kept her Singing Dream Alive (Winnipeg Free Press)

By Bartley Kives, April 26th, 2003

One August night in 1987, Monica Schroeder saw a concert that would change her life. Making its first Winnipeg appearance, Aussie pop group Crowded House blew away a Centennial Concert Hall audience that included Schroeder, then a shy schoolgirl from the tiny hamlet of Horndean.

“I just sat and stared through the whole show. I didn’t even applaud. I couldn’t believe something like this existed,” says Schroeder, who’s now an adult-pop singer in her own right. “I went home knowing that’s what I wanted to do. (But) I went to school and put the dream away for a while.”

It would be 12 years before Schroeder would act on her impulse to perform. Though a naturally gifted vocalist, she was rejected by the choir at Providence Bible College in St. Pierre-Jolys, an experience discouraging enough to get her to take up the guitar.

In 1999, after playing a handful of live shows, Schroeder finally went for it. She took out a loan, hooked up with Winnipeg producer Olaf Pyttlik and recorded an ambitious debut album called ‘The Expectation of Home’. The disc garnered Schroeder a Prairie Music Award nomination and immediate respect in local singer-songwriter circles. That affiliation, plus a tendency to perform alone with a guitar, gave off the impression she was some kind of folkie.

As ‘Orbit’, her second CD reiterates, she writes introspective adult pop songs. The new disc, again produced by Pyttlik, is based on the idea that people have personal spheres of influence that draw others in.

“I spend way more time thinking about what I’m saying than how I say it,” she ways, noting people tend it praise her voice more often than her lyrics or songwriting. But it’s that voice you notice first.

Tonight, you can hear it live, as Schroeder performs at a CD-release concert for Orbit at the Franco-Manitoban Cultural Centre. Admission for the 8pm show is $10. Winnipeg’s Dominique Reynolds open the show.

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