Singer songwriter, multi-instrumentalist

 A gifted musician and vocal artist, Abby’s message is an uplifting and often poignant expression of the human experience. She explores tiny fragments of life, both the lighter side and the struggle of finding hope in a troubled world. Her songs are at once intimate and relatable.  

"The voice of a nightingale" 
-Uta Birnbaum, Director  

From classical and world music to country and traditional folk, Abby’s exposure to a variety of genres in her childhood set the tone for a life-long thirst to explore new musical avenues and expand her range. Her multi-faceted career has taken her from the Royal Conservatory of Music Concert Hall to tavern stages to festivals and (almost) everywhere in between. 

"A voice at once sweet and rich - beautiful!"
-Tatjana Barr, Simple Moments, Nova Scotia 

In her debut solo album, Local Honey, Abby takes an exhilarating leap - with arms wide open - and soars. Infused with a spirit of freedom, her new sound is a satisfying union of wistful pop blended beautifully with gospel, folk and blues; all filtered through her gift for emotional and philosophical contemplation. Abby’s is a voice that is at once authentic and pure, yet time and experience have lent a new edge to it; a broader vocal range and maturity that adds dimension and a touching honesty to her lyrics and emotional depth to her songs.   

"Heartwarming and real"   
-Sue Glover, Human Bean Coffee House, Cobourg

Sound Bites

I was born to Ed, a classical music lover, and Joyce, a country fan, so I can trace my diverse musical tastes pretty far back, probably to the womb.  

My first forays into songwriting came about at an early age, much to my family’s delight (or chagrin, if you want to split hairs). Performed, ad nauseam, on long family car rides, in the tub and at the dinner table, some of my early gems include The Red Car Song, The Blue Truck Song, The Soap & Water Song and The I Hate Liver Song.  

More firsts: my first 45, Sir Duke by Stevie Wonder; first album: Pat Benatar’s In the Heat of the Night; first concert: Supertramp's Breakfast in America Tour, and all the while I grooved out to Gordon Lightfoot, Dolly Parton, Chilliwack and all things Beethoven!  

Growing up in my hometown of Whitby, Ontario, I sang, all the time and everywhere—in church choirs and school choirs, in theatres and backyard girl groups- and, of course, I continued to thrill and entertain my family on long family car rides and at the dinner table.  

In 1976 I had the good fortune to begin studying with Katherine Guselle, winning awards at the Royal Conservatory of Music for voice and theory.  

I’m not sure if I knew back then how important a role this partnership would play in my career, but in 1978 I began a musical collaboration with Bryan Williston in our first incarnation, Harmony and Me, a name we borrowed from an old Elton John tune.  

In the 80s I studied Drama and English at U of T and Theatre at York University. Higher learning helped to hone my songwriting style and take it from angst-ridden coming-of-age break-up songs to angst-ridden cold-war-era laments. And all the while I continued to groove out, now to the sounds of Crowded House, Grace Jones, Loreena McKenitt and Penderecki.  

After graduating, I spent several years working in Canada and Germany as a singer, actor, writer and director in theatre, film and TV.  

I formed the MadriGALS, an a cappella Renaissance Trio (MadriGALS … get it?) and in 1998 we released Alchemy and went on tour. That same year I co-founded another group, Strings Attached.  

In 2001 I reunited with Williston to create Two Roads Home, a folk-trad-pop duo. We performed as soloists at some of the first LGBTQ weddings in Canada and went on to record two albums, Dovetailing and Sweet Shadows, with co-producer James Gordon. Williston and I toured the east coast and I began ramping up my songwriting, honing my skills to become the reflective side of the duo.  

 

Teaching and conducting have become an important, and ongoing, part of my life. In 2011, I became maestra for three treee-mendous Shout Sister women's choirs in Toronto, Whitby and Cobourg. I conducted for Shout Sister founder and blues woman extraordinaire Georgette Fry on her show Georgette Sings Etta. I continue to create and direct three-part pop arrangements for youth and children in Toronto and surrounding area as well as teach voice to pop divas, guitar heroes and even an Elvis impersonator here and there, from Toronto to Kingston.   

Two Roads Home went on a forced hiatus in 2014, and I decided to go solo approaching my fifth decade. Fans have declared, “Better late than never!” and dad is proud, even though I’m not singing Schumann anymore.   

All of that somehow, beautifully, miraculously, led to my new album Local Honey. My gratitude is boundless for everyone involved. Featuring Bryan Williston co-writing and on guitars; Gary Craig (Bruce Cockburn, Blackie and the Rodeo Kings, Kathleen Edwards, Anne Murray) on drums; Tom Sertsis (Super Godlike) on bass and percussion; Chris Saunders on guitars; Alana Bridgewater (Joe Sealy, Nathaniel Dett Chorale) on guest vox; Chris Rawlings on guitar and recorders; Dan Gooch (Emily Jill West, Foolhearts) on flugel horn and keyboards; Seana Lee Wood (Sound of Music & Once with Mirvish) on guest vox; Jim Hodgkinson (Pendulum, Percwood) on piano; and the inimitable Steve Sherman on guitars and co-production.   

And here I am today, over the moon, steppin' out into the sun, getting ready to launch my second spring in the autumn of 2018. In anticipation, I’m preparing my pre-launch house concert tour, A Taste of Honey. Yes, life is sweet.

 

Copy: Monique Schuette