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A Conversation With Angel Forrest



Angel Forrest is Canada’s premiere vocalist of the blues. She’s been singing the blues for over 30 years and her list of accomplishments and awards is endless. She’s garnered ten Maple Blues Awards, highlighted by eight as Female Vocalist of the Year, which is only a sample of her accolades. When she starts to sing you know you’re hearing a voice unequalled in the music world.


Ken Wallis interviewed Angel Forest for the radio show Blues Source Canada. The following are excerpts edited from that interview.




Ken Wallis

Angel Forest has a brand-new album out. It is called Angel’s 11 Volume II and to tell us all about it, joining us is Angel Forest. Angel thanks for coming on the show.


Angel Forrest

Always a pleasure Ken thank you for the invite.


Ken Wallis

So, tell me all about the album. It's a little bit different than the first Angel’s 11.

Angel Forrest

Well, the concept is kind of the same except for this time around it’s 11 singers; my favourite singers. The first year that we got locked down, Denis and I did nothing. We were out in B.C. on Hornby Island and going okay, something's got to give, so we wrote a song. We wrote Gypsy Heart and then I’m thinking, when this ends, what am I gonna do? I gotta go out and play, I gotta do something, but how am I gonna record an album? My musicians are in Montreal and I’m here. I had this concept, why don't we do another Angel’s 11 this time with harmonica players.Then I said no no, not harmonica players, my favourite singers and it could be cool because since we're in lockdown we could do it virtually and that might be really exciting. I said but who am I going to get to do it and he (Denis) said just make yourself a list of the people you want most. So, my first name on the list was Harry Manx and that was because I absolutely love what he does. I’ve never met him, and I just love his albums. He just fills my soul. I love his sound and I love his instruments. So, Gypsy Hearts went to Harry Manx, and he literally responded two hours later and said he loved my voice and the guitar. He didn't have time this week, but he would record next week. I said that was just a demo and we would record virtually in September. He loved the subject, the actual subject of that one was my 22-year-old daughter who was in Australia; she'd been touring Vietnam and Cambodia and Thailand. She was in Australia and then Trudeau said to come home so she came home. She's got the traveling bug at her age and all her friends who want to go travel the world. I was on a boat in the Pacific and Denis was salmon fishing and the lyrics just came to me and the whole idea of how in my 50s and how my aunts in their 70s are feeling during covid. But imagine in infants or kids under five; or in your 20s or your early 30s. Holy mackerel, so that song came out of that.


I continued the list, and I wrote the songs and then I sent them out. I wrote the songs with them in mind, and I wanted to be sure I had a good song that would really reflect the singer that was on my list. It was a challenge lyrically because on Angel’s 11 I did all the singing and it was the guitar parts that were different, the guitar players and their styles of blues. I had to be sure that the lyrics were something that my invited guests could sink their teeth into; they could really shine on. That was the main objective, and the list just went on and everybody said yes and every time somebody said yes the bus was a rockin’ because I was running back and forth going oh my god, oh my god. So, we just got that all together and then planned to go to Montreal in September when the covid thing had sort of died down a bit. We had the people that were close to Montreal, Jonas (Tomalty) and Dawn (Tyler Watson) and Rob Lutes and obviously Ricky (Paquette) and Denis (Columbus) and Reney Ray. They were in Montreal and able to come into the studio obviously with all the covid restrictions.


Everybody else we did in real time, which was the first time I'd ever done that virtually in real time; Daniel (Wellbat) from Hamburg and Brandon (Isaak) in B.C. and Crystal (Shawanda) in Nashville and my friends Kal (David) and Lauri (Bono) in California and it was great. I’m a girl who likes to get it on live; I like to be in the studio. Doing it with the album (Angel’s 11) with the guitar players was super cool because they were there. This time around it was a little bit different for the handful that we did virtually. I had these people in mind and I wrote melodies and things that would make them shine. There was really no producing to do really vocally; everybody was just fantastic.

Ken Wallis

I talked to Ricky Paquette a couple of weeks ago and he said he was absolutely thrilled to be able to sing with you and he said he’d never been able to sing with you before. I thought that was really interesting because he's certainly been playing with you for a long time.


Angel Forrest

He's a phenomenal musician-producer. We did Hell Bent With Grace together and Denis’ album that just came out; we did that one together. I write all the lyrics and the melodies, and they do the music. It just made sense and Ricky was putting his record out and I love his voice. He's got a real way to change; he's got really low tones and a really high tone, a great ear and this particular song, Living In Bardo. We are both very spiritual in believing in the moment and believing what you manifest and what you send out to the world and everything. Living In Bardo is how I was feeling that first year; literally in between everything and it was a time of reflection when the world stops, and you get off your treadmill and you stop repressing things because you're so busy in real time to deal with them. Or you sit and think about what's happening and choices you've made in your life or the relationships that friends of yours have or things people are going through. This is where the album came from for me and living in Bardo was the kind of like the key; this is the time we need to get off the treadmill. We're off it forcefully and we need to think and deal and try and start again. So, he was a guy for it.


Ken Wallis

There are so many great artists on the cd but one that really caught my ear Wellbad, and I have to admit I didn't know any music from Wellbad, but, I now have the album.


Angel Forrest

Super guy, an unbelievable voice. That Tom Waits sort of style and he's such an entertainer. I think he's coming out to Ontario this summer. Everything Changes again is a song of acceptance that change is gonna happen whether it's good or bad. You will like the guitar in it and the beat that Denis has on the acoustic that kind of drives it. It's kind of eerie; change can be exciting or it can be scary and his voice and my voice together I thought would be a perfect vehicle to get that vibe out. He’s really fun.


Ken Wallis

I have to ask, does the number 11 have a particular significance to you?


Angel Forrest

I just came back from the Dominican and of course we were in row 11. When we did Angel’s 11 back in 2016, the studio was one thousand one hundred and eleven and in front you have those parking permit signs, and it was 111. It's been maybe the last 10 years or so that it's really been quite evident in my life and I think of it as a positive thing and so I’ve always had 11 songs on my albums, and my birthday's March 11th, and I don't know, it's just a thing. I’m sure it goes deeper than but I find whenever I look at the clock it's always 11:11 or 1:11.


Ken Wallis

And of course, the release date for this album is the 11th!


Angel Forrest

That's right, my birthday March 11th.


Ken Wallis

Angel it's been great chatting with you it's a terrific album.


Angel Forrest

All the names on there are fantastic and they all bring such amazing talents. I really hope that people will embrace it because it is a very melodic album. it's very vocal. It's very happy about true subjects and it's got obviously the blues flavour all the way through it.


Ken Wallis

So, what's on tap for the summer?


Angel Forrest

I have a tour in Quebec. I’ve got 22 shows. Denis and I are doing a lot of double plateaus with his album and my album coming out and then we're going back to B.C. early April. We’ll drive across Canada and spend July, August, September out there. I’m very excited about all the restrictions coming off; still taking it easy and being very careful. I might not be hugging folks as much as I used to and be doing cheek to cheek tangos with everybody during guitar solos but it's a start. I’m very grateful to be able to get out there and that hopefully we can find some peace and joy together making dancing music.

Ken Wallis

Angel thanks so much it's been great chatting with you take care.


Angel Forrest

Wonderful, you too.


Photo Credit: Ken Wallis.



Website: www.angelforrest.ca

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