The Moment I Knew I Wanted to Make Music: Justine Blanchet

by - March 07, 2023

Photo courtesy of Emma Lee Photography

I was home-schooled until my university years, so my family and I had the chance to travel to the United States quite a bit. Given that there are a lot more country radio stations in the United States than back home near Montreal, I was initially introduced to the country music genre that way. My mom also introduced me to singers like Shania Twain, Reba McEntire, Lady A and Carrie Underwood, and through these experiences, I fell in love with the genre for its down-to-earth lyrics and catchy melodies.

When I was 11, I was hospitalized for sepsis and a burst appendix. I spent three weeks in the hospital recovering from an invasive surgery. I was just a few weeks from turning 12 years old and I felt as though I had gotten a second chance at life. As odd as that might sound coming from a 12-year-old, experiences like the one I had just gone through really did change my view about life.

At the time, I also heard about this 13-year-old opera singer who was rapidly rising to fame for being so talented. I figured if she could do it, I probably could as well.

I began taking singing classes and tried to sing opera. I entered a variety of competitions and won first place when I was 13 years old. Winning first place meant that I got the chance to tour Quebec and parts of Ontario with a brass band and have my own set. That experience really made me enjoy performing on stage. I continued to sing opera music until I was 15 years old. Even so, I had no attachment to the genre, so I decided to switch to country music after a conversation with my singing teacher. I’m sure that my first trip to Nashville a year earlier might have had something to do with that. Once I started singing country music, I began to write it as well.

When I was 16 years old, I got the chance to return to Nashville for the second time and to perform at the Bluebird Cafe during an open mic night. It’s a moment I will forever remember because it was a step forward towards being the performer I wanted to be in the city where I wanted to do it. It was the moment I wanted to make music and share stories that I believed that listeners would relate to and that maybe someday, I would be able to share their stories as well.

Today, I live most of the year in Nashville. I’ve written and performed with amazing musicians around town and I’m wrapping up my debut EP of tracks I’ve recorded right here in town. Never would 13-year-old me singing opera have ever believed that I would be living out my country music dream in Nashville. But here I am, and this dream came true.

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