Jill Paquette's self-titled debut album garnered awards for Outstanding Christian Recording and for Outstanding Aboriginal Recording at the 2004 Western Canadian Music Awards on Oct. 3.
The emerging artist beat out the likes of Burnt (Project 1-The Avenue); Kimberly Dawn (I'm Going Home); Eagle & Hawk (Mother Earth); and Wayne Lavallee (Green Dress) in the Outstanding Aboriginal category.
In the Outstanding Christian category, Paquette's recording edged out Steve Bell / Sarah Bell (Sons & Daughters); Fresh I.E . (Red Letterz); Jaylene Johnson (finding beautiful); and Stereotrap (refusing).
Production credit on the Jill Paquette album goes to Eldon Winter, Stephen J. Rendall and Phil Madeira.
Her musical sound is generally associated with the folk/acoustic and pop genres. Paquette, 25, is classically trained in piano, but says she has no formal training in acoustic guitar which she took up at age 16. Both instruments are heard on the album.
She was born in the mining and forestry town of Houston, B.C. (population 3,000). She told Windspeaker she identifies as Metis; her Web site states she is of French Canadian and Cree heritage. She is a member of the Metis Provincial Council of British Columbia.
Paquette left home at age 17 to attend Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alta., with the idea of perhaps becoming a piano player some day, but her coffee house singing dates gradually led to a professional career as a singer/songwriter.
"I played a lot of music with bands in college ... and toured with them for a couple of years ... and toured across Canada and into the States and the West Coast.
"What the label (Reunion Records) wanted to do was just give me some time to go out and develop as an artist, and I wanted to do some more schooling before I really committed a lot of time to full-time music, so it was just kind of a time of digging in deeper to music, I guess, and figuring out if it's what I wanted to do for sure."
But Paquette cut a demo that was well received in Nashville and after a couple of years she did leave her studies behind as the music business consumed more of her time. She hasn't discounted the idea of returning to complete her final year of college one day. "Music just ended up being such a full-time thing, so I just decided I can go back to school later. I need to see what this is going to do for now."
She has recently parted ways with Reunion.
Currently Paquette makes Nashville her base of operation, but said she tours a lot and is on the road "as many days as I can. I'm not at home very much." Often she travels alone but when she's with a band she usually brings a drummer and a bass player with her, she said.
"I'm a full-time musician. When I'm in Nashville I do session singing, song-writing and stuff like that, but for the most part I'm out on the road."
Right now she has little time for anything other than music, she said, but when she lived in Alberta she enjoyed the outdoors-everything from hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking to snowboarding.
Paquette admits "I need to find some new hobbies, and fast. It (music) is a creative outlet, but if you're not staying inspired and stuff like that, it's hard to work it out."
She likes to read, and does a bit of beading and leatherwork "but I don't usually have a lot of time for that."