A local duet is hoping Barrie will rally behind them in their journey for the spotlight.
Donna Widdifield and Piero Minelli make up 1+1=, a rock 'n' roll duo who have entered a music video for their song Elevator Ride in the CBC Searchlight competition.
“This song was written at a sad time (in my life) as a solo artist. (Piero) went through a bunch of my old songs and said he thought we should do that one,” she says. “I didn’t want to do it they way it was written, because it was about sad times. I rewrote it in a much happier time (in my life) with more positive lyrics.”
“I liked it the second I heard it,” says Minelli.
Widdifield says the song was originally about not being able to trust in a relationship. Now, the song is about knowing you have that trust.
“His motto is kind of, go big or go home, and that’s how we live,” says Widdifield. “With our music career we’ve just been pushing really hard forward.”
Widdifield and Minelli met back in the 1980s as they lived in the same town.
“I was a classical musician at that time. He’d come to my house and listen to me play classical (music). I’d go to his house and watch him play,” she says.
After 35 years of moving around, Minelli reached out to Widdifield to come see his band, Black Creek Radio play in Ontario. Widdifield, who lived in Alberta at the time, made the trip and from that meeting, decided to move from Alberta back to Ontario.
“We started dating... but that band ended up breaking up,” says Widdifield with a laugh.
In 1+1=, Minelli plays bass, ukelele and tenor guitar, while Widdifield plays piano. They both sing.
“Duets are very unusual. They’re not written too often,” says Widdifield. “They’re hard to pull off.”
Widdifield and Minelli got engaged to be married this past summer. When asked about whether happiness in life translates to more positive messages in their music, Widdifield doesn’t hesitate.
“The music has changed completely,” says Widdifield, with a laugh. “I think the music is something where, when you write it, you put all your feelings into it. If you can’t portray that feeling to the audience, then they don’t understand it.”
Widdifield and Minelli’s musical influences are eclectic, from David Bowie and Supertramp to classical, jazz, and everything in between.
“We listen to everything,” says Widdifield. “My family is all country and western. My uncle is in Las Vegas and he has a musical publishing company and a label. I was the black sheep. I play classical... I went to the Royal Conservatory of Music through the University of Toronto to get my ARCT, but I dropped out to play rock and roll.”
The duo are currently working on an album in the studio right now, with the goal of having it out within the year. They also plan to start touring around Canada in the near future.
“All the music we play usually requires a full band. We do it all, just the two of us. We make the sound full, which is really difficult to do with two people,” says Widdifield.
Last year, Widdifield entered the CBC Searchlight competition as a solo artist, but is hoping that this year, entering the duo act will catch the attention of judges and the public.
“I didn’t have enough marketing or promotional stuff,” says Widdifield.
Two Barrie businesses helped Widdifield and Minelli with their video. Mix 11 Studios did the recording and mix, while Sprout Wise Media made the music video.
“They did an amazing job,” says Widdifield. “We were extremely happy because the mix has a bit of a retro sound... and the video as well. It all just fit perfectly. They captured the essence of the song.”
“We’re doing what we love, together. That feeling just comes out every time we play,” says Widdifield.
Voting for the CBC Searchlight competition opens Feb. 5 and continues for 10 days. After 10 days, the top 100 videos will be chosen to move on to the next round. To vote for 1+1= or for more information on the contest, click here.