Singer and pianist Gina Williams received a positive reception, including rousing ovations, for her performance at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre last week.
Williams praised the audience for their enthusiasm during her performance.
“What made this night special for me is that I think the Yellowknife crowd is the most cool, mixed, real, authentic crowd. They were a delight, for real. I could bare my soul and it was OK,” she said. “Nobody looked at me like, ‘She’s crazy. Somebody go get the doctor.’ It wasn’t like that.”
Throughout her Saturday evening performance, people were singing along and dancing. At one point during the show, members of the audience all around the auditorium joined hands, creating a human chain. Together they walked around the auditorium while Williams sang. She said it was one of the highlights of the evening.
“Everyone was just like, we’re going. We’re out of here. No more Covid-19. That was truly gold.”
Also leaving an impression on her was the crowd’s reaction to her performance of a heartfelt song about mental illness that she released in 2021 called Angry Bird.
“I was thinking about my family when I was singing that but I could feel the audience get into it and it got really quiet… it was almost like a reverent moment,” she said. “I don’t know exactly what they felt but I felt them with me. That’s really important when people are with you that so you can go to that place. That was special. Scary, but it was special.”
She elaborated on why it was a frightening experience for her.
“(I have sung) Angry Bird before, many times, and it was great but this was like a fight… it was more raw than I’ve ever done it. I was allowing myself to go there.”
Williams was visibly distressed just before singing Angry Bird. She threw off her scarf and began to sing impassionately. After she finished, the audience began to shout, “Thank you.”
Feeling warm from the positive experience of the evening, the talented pianist and singer said she wants to return.
“I would love to come back to Yellowknife, if Yellowknife will have me… and to do all the songs that I ended up having to cut out,” she said. “It was surprisingly warm. I am so touched that so many people from so many backgrounds and age ranges came out. It really touched my heart that people came prepared to have a good time… it was it was an absolute honour. Yellowknife rocks.”
Although the auditorium was only about half full, this has become the norm, according to Marie Coderre, executive and artistic director for the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre. Since the pandemic, ticket sales are down close to 60 per cent, she said.