Grand Falls-Windsor native honoured at Calgary blues festival

Andrea Gunn
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Debra Power named Keyboardist of the Year

Grand Falls-Windsor born blues musician Debra Power belts it out on the keyboard during a performance. Power, who now lives in Calgary, was named Keyboard Player of the Year at the Calgary Mid-Winter Blues Festival earlier this month.

Debra Power calls herself a jack-of-all-trades musician. She plays keyboard, sings and writes her own music.

She has played in many bands and on many scenes in many provinces during her years as a professional musician, but, she said, she is a blues musician at heart.

Power was recently recognized for her passion and talent for blues earlier this month when she was given the ‘Keyboard Player of The Year’ award at Calgary’s Mid-Winter Blues Festival.

Residents of Grand Falls-Windsor likely recognize Power’s name – though she’s lived in several provinces over the past few decades of her life and has lived in Calgary permanently since 2012, she was born, raised and spent several years as an adult living and playing in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Power received professional music instruction as a child in Grand Falls-Windsor; she used to compete in the Kiwanis Music Festival, and played in all-girl bands as a teen. She then went to St. John’s to pursue a degree from Memorial’s music school in its first years of existence.

“I was two years in there and I met a guy named Rick Hollett, who started originally in the band called ‘Choice’ from Grand Falls with a number of well known musicians. He talked me into singing in a band, so in the second year of university I started singing in a band in St. John’s called ‘Katmandu’, and once I got into that I never got back into school.”

Since then, as a professional musician, Power has played in numerous bands, as well as solo, she has played everything from rock n’ roll, to cover music, to country music and even played with a band that had a Canadian country chart.

Power has played regular weekly gigs at bars and clubs, and has been on stage at festivals playing with some of the top blues musicians in the world.

“I started doing all kinds of gigs, I’m kind of a jack of all trades. I can give you anything from Pianoman to Bonnie Raitt to Elton John, and then I’ll do the downhome blues thing. But I am technically a blues singer, that’s what I do,” she said.

Power left her home in Calgary in 2005 and spent about seven years living in Grand Falls-Windsor before moving to Calgary again in 2012. Being big into the blues scene in Calgary, it was no surprise to Power when she was invited to play at the Mid-Winter Blues Festival this year.

What did surprise her, however, was finding out she was nominated as Keyboard Player of the Year the same day she was approached to play.

“(The organizer) called me to ask me if I wanted to play (in the host band) during the week, and she just happened to mention I was nominated, I had no idea.”

Power said the day she found out was only four days before polls closed for online voting for the winners of various awards like Keyboard Player of the Year, Singer of The Year and so on.

Power played with the host band for three nights, and on the final evening, the winners were announced and Power was named Keyboard Player of the Year.

Power said she was thrilled and honoured, to win the award, adding that despite her years as a professional musician this is the first time in recent years she’s competed for or won any kind of award.

“It kind of blew me away, when I found out I won I was like ‘what?’” Power said.

The award has already resulted in good things for Power.

“People who knew me years ago see that I’m back now, I’m on the scene and playing, and I’m getting offers for more gigs,” she said.

Power said she already plays several regular weekly and monthly gigs in Calgary, and plans to delve even more into the music scene in coming months. She also said she hopes to finally get into the studio and record her first album in 2014.

Though being a professional musician takes a lot of hard work and dedication, Power said she wouldn’t want to do anything else.

“I enjoy everything about music, laying down a groove and getting on top of it, and putting your heart and soul out on the stage,” Power said.

“I’ve done this all my life, and I’ve never lost my passion for playing, it’s always there. I love to play music all the time; it’s a wonderful thing to do something you love.”

Geographic location: Calgary, Grand Falls-Windsor, Grand Falls Kiwanis

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  • Joanne Kean
    March 21, 2014 - 01:02

    It was an honor to be there the night Deb received this award...and it was so nice to cheer on a friend that entertains us on a regular basis & to see her acknowledged for her gift :)