Fans of folk music are in for a very special evening when iconic singer-songwriter Heather Bishop plays in Gibsons on September 6. The 68-year-old is a force to be reckoned with, always with several projects on the go. “I’m happiest when I’m working,” says Bishop, on the line from her southern Manitoba home which she built herself. “This last winter I installed a whole array of solar panels so now I get my electricity from the sun as well.” In addition to carpentry, Bishop does plumbing and electrical. She’s also a musician with 14 acclaimed CDs, garnering awards and nominations for her body of work, including a Western Canadian Music Award for Industry Builder of the Year (2006). She founded and still runs her own music company, Mother of Pearl Records. She was one of the earliest champions for women’s rights and continues her fight against racism and homophobia. She is a painter and published author. She was awarded the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal for her contributions to public life and the Diamond Jubilee Medal for outstanding achievement. She is a member of the Order of Canada (2005), Member of the Order of Manitoba (2001) and received an honorary Doctorate from Brandon University (2011). There are few things Bishop hasn’t done. Except, amazingly, after 45 years of touring, perform on the Sunshine Coast. Her concert at the Heritage Playhouse will be her first on the Coast, and only one of a handful she will perform this year.
Bishop started playing piano when she five, taking up guitar when she was 16. She’s seen a lot of changes in the music industry, not the least of which is the shift from vinyl records to music streaming. “On one hand that was really bad because it absolutely gutted CD sales,” recalls Bishop. “The flipside was we now had direct access to our market. For me, I had quick, easy access to a world market that already knew me.” After a long, successful career in music, Bishop has returned to her first love, painting. “I’m mostly retired from music,” admits Bishop. “My rule now about doing gigs is that I only go out when its somewhere I really want to go or the guys I play with are the best in Canada.” She will be performing with Laurie MacKenzie, guitarist for The Guess Who. “He’s played with all the greats and I feel very honoured that he also plays with me,” says Bishop. For her first—and perhaps only—concert on the Coast, Bishop is mindful of playing her fans’ favourites. “I’ll be playing a real cross section of 40 years of music,” she says. “There’ll be a little jazz, lots of folk, a little country. I’m excited!”
Heather Bishop plays the Gibsons Heritage Playhouse Wednesday, September 6 at 7:30pm. Tickets $25 available at Sechelt Visitor Centre and Laedeli Gifts.