By Kristie Sparksman
VANCOUVER — The brilliant thing about Hilary Grist isn’t just the fact that she is a local British Columbian. It isn’t even about her chameleon abilities with instruments, the visual aspects she designs for her projects, or the fact that she collaborates so effortlessly with her husband. Although these characteristics are all wonderful, what truly sets Grist apart is how remarkably down to earth she is. With such an innate talent for all things musical, she is a delightful discovery for those looking for someone with a gentle yet creative approach to life.
“I’m fond of saying, ‘I started music before I was too old to protest,’” Grist giggles affectionately. “My parents plopped me in lessons, and I seemed to enjoy it, but I wasn’t one of those stage star kids. I didn’t see myself as being a musician, or wanting to do that with my life but it just kept kind of percolating in the background.” We should be grateful that she pursued it, because we are blessed with a breezy, affable songwriter, who truly spins magic out of chords.
Her latest accomplishment, Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over, is a bedtime storybook for children, complete with a full album of accompanying songs. Track one is Grist’s soothing voice narrating the story, easing you into the song portion. The story itself is a brother and sister pair, Ira and Isabelle, who end up escaping on a whimsical excursion to the City of Green and Blue, all during their dreams. Grist, alongside her husband and a few local artists, built and crafted the entire tactile book settings, and the characters themselves. “With this project, it was actually the easiest one for me to write, cause it was personal in a way that I was relating to it, but at the same time there was a bit of distance,” Grist reveals, ”It was a little more like I felt a healthy detachment by trying to be a little more of a fiction writer.”
Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over might be intended for children, but adults alike can find themselves relating to the charming concept and harmonious production that the album stands by. An artist to the soul, Grist finds her niche in the musical world within her own comfortable space. “Songwriting for me, it’s like doodling, like if I was drawing. I doodle little bits, then record little bits. I do that a lot, in small parts.” Her bright blue-green eyes light up. “Then I’ll sit down, and put a few of the bits together. Then it kind of all marinates together, like compost!” she adds, laughing. “Over the span of a few weeks I was writing all these songs, and they were all in this kind of vibe, and then it started to don on me that it was hinting at a story. I didn’t set out to write a story, the music just came.”
Drawing inspiration from her nieces, she began by writing simple songs for them. Little did she know, that she too would be having kids of her own, twin boys no less, serendipitously aligned with the release of her new album and book. It seems that Grist has nothing but wonderful things to look forward to in the next while. Although she had to turn down a few festival appearances due to her expectancy, she will be doing a book reading and musical performance in early June, just in case you need your fix of melodic bliss, in the form of a sublimely talented woman.
Tomorrow is a Chance to Start Over will be read during a performance by Hilary Grist at Book Warehouse on Saturday, June 6th at 2 p.m.AB, Alberta, Book Warehouse, books, children's storybooks, Hilary Grist, Tomorrow is a Chance To Start Over