Festival du Bois: Musician Ginalina performs for families in three languages

    1 of 4 2 of 4

      Vancouver musician Ginalina likes to say that everybody is valuable and everybody has a place in this world. And she has found her place making music and singing songs in three languages for kids.

      Along the way, she has created four albums and collected three Juno nominations.

      “I love going back to the basics of what’s important and essential in life—things like appreciating the moment, love and friendship—these universal truths that never grow old,” Ginalina tells the Straight by phone. “I love those aspects about my writing. There’s a real purity to that and it keeps my spirit healthy.”

      One of her favourite songs, “The Best Is Apple Pie”, reflects this philosophy. It’s about enjoying the sweet things in life, including apple pie, with friends and family.

      “The kids get to jump, clap, and laugh,” she says. “The adults get to feel all cozy and warm.”

      Another of her songs, “It Takes a Village”, gets audiences swaying their bodies and humming along in a chorus that reinforces the need to help one another pursue their dreams.

      “Whether you’re one, or forty-one or a hundred and one, being part of a community is inspiring and vital,” Ginalina emphasizes.

      Video: Ginalina lights up the dance floor with "The Best Is Apple Pie".

      In early April, Ginalina will perform twice at Festival du Bois. She credits executive and artistic director Joanne Dumas, communications manager Clémence Dufresne, and the rest of the team for their hard work in maintaining this annual celebration of francophone culture in Mackin Park in Coquitlam.

      Ginalina will sing and play guitar with her husband Joseph (accordion) and their four kids: John (bass guitar), Annalise (ukelele), Gabriel (cajon), and Emma (accordion).

      “Actually, we have as many accordions in the house as people,” Ginalina says with a laugh. “They're getting to be tripping hazards.”

      That’s not the only francophone touch. The Toronto-born Ginalina also sings fluently in French (as well as in English and Mandarin) after studying the language in school and then immersing herself in Québécois culture at different times in her life.

      Video: In "Dans la rivière (In the River)", Ginalina shows how she sings in French and English.

      Many years ago, she spent five weeks on a language-exchange program in Chicoutimi, experiencing the city’s joie de vivre. She says that this stimulated a desire to improve her French.

      The following summer, Ginalina worked in Les Laurentides, a small town not far from Montreal. She later went on to live beside Mont Royal in Montreal, where she enjoyed many weeks of the free-spirited Tam-Tams Drum Festival.

      But where she really gained a strong facility with the language was in China, of all places. She enrolled at Nanjing University to improve her Mandarin. Her multilingual roommate was from Slovakia and they communicated with one another in French.

      “We travelled together; we worked together; we lived together,” Ginalina recalls. “She was my best friend in an overseas country. My French just skyrocketed.”

      Her Mandarin also improved, enabling her to forge stronger connections with her Taiwanese-born parents after she returned to Canada.

      “Music and language have opened the door to so many interesting experiences and deeper relationships,” Ginalina says. “I’m very grateful to be a singer-songwriter and to contribute a bit more joy into the world.”

      Video: Ginalina includes some clever animation in her video for "Parts of a Tree".