Ottawa warms to Kyrie’s eclectic music

She calls herself a nomad, who has lived by the ocean, on the open prairie and in Canada’s biggest cities.


For most of her 18 years, Kyrie Kristmanson says she’s been an observer of people, and always curious to discover the sights, sounds and stories that make a place what it is.


And when asked what prompted her to pursue music, she talks about a life-long passion to “forge a relationship with the land and its history.”


It’s an unexpected answer, but one that seems fitting from an artist who is herself so unconventional, yet engaging.


With her voice, her guitar, and her trumpet, the petite musician creates a wallop of sound that’s a combination of folk, jazz, rock and world music, or what she calls “modern folk.” “I’ve been playing the guitar since I was nine, and I think I was singing before I could talk,” says Kristmanson. “My musical style wasn’t a conscious decision, it was sort of just the way it happened and I guess it’s a calling or something because I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing.”

When she was 15, she had her first big performance at the Winnipeg Folk Festival, and has since established a solid reputation as a performer in Saskatchewan, where she most recently lived. But a musician with a nomadic lifestyle also carries the burden of starting over in each new city. While that would probably seem daunting to many singers, Kristmanson tackled Ottawa head-on when she arrived here last fall for school, performing at open-stages and making contact with established artists and club owners.

In the last few months alone, she’s performed at numerous city venues, both as a solo act and with other musicians, and it’s all been a nice warm-up for her next big festival gig — an afternoon concert that’s part of the Jazz Festival’s Youth Series. “My plan is to have a really tight and well-timed set, that really involves the audience. I am very excited about it,” Kristmanson explains.

All it took to land the spot in the festival lineup was a quick e-mail to organizers inviting them to hear what she does best — tell a refreshing musical tale of all the places she’s been and all the people she’s met.

Kyrie Kristmanson plays a free concert Sunday at 1 p.m. on the Empire Grill Stage at Confederation Park.