The Festival d'été de Québec, taking place this year July 5-15 in Québec City, Canada, is known for always having lots of big names among the 250-or-so shows that take place over the course of the 11-day festival. Indeed, festival-goers have already had a chance to see Neil Young, the Weeknd, Future, Foo Fighters, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello perform. Another thing that the Festival d'été de Québec (FEQ) is known for is for presenting performers that work in a wide variety of genres and styles. Particularly popular are any artists that have a soulful component to their music, like the Ottawa-based singer Rebecca Noelle.
Noelle is a pop singer with a strong voice that’s loaded with soul, and during her performance to a packed venue on July 6 she put it to good use performing songs from her appropriately-titled Soulstice album along with covers of the Jackson 5’s “Who’s Lovin’ You,” the Frankie Goes to Hollywood cut “The Power of Love” and Janelle Monáe’s “Tightrope.” In a nod to the French-speaking crowd at the Festival d'été de Québec and the fact that all of Canada is bilingual, Noelle also sang some songs in French, a language that she learned as a little girl.
Noelle also got to take something more home from Québec City than just a memory of interacting with fans at her show. Rebecca won the Prix FEQ Award, an annual award that recognizes a young musician with an original artistic approach. “I was nominated by the Ottawa Bluesfest, which is my hometown festival,” Noelle told AXS.com. “Last year the award was given to the PepTides, which is actually my other band, so we’ve had a little bit of a streak the last couple of years.”
Noelle incorporates not just soul into her pop music but also jazz and funk and a little bit of disco, and these influences began accruing in her youth. “I’ve had so many influences over the years and they've always kind of changed, but my grandfather, who was a jazz pianist, was a huge influence,” Noelle explains. "I grew up in a house that was playing a lot of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughn, and my mom kind of took me down the jazz route a little bit. Then I saw Bryan Adams for the first time when I was six-years-old, and that was the moment that I decided that I wanted to do this for a living. Nowadays people like k.d. lang; she’s a huge influence to me. I love the writing of Ray LaMontagne, and Rachel Yamagata and Susanne Sundfør are also influences.
With a roster packed with artists of a similar caliber to Noelle, the Festival d'été de Québec offers fans a chance to hear music by accomplished players that they might not yet be familiar with. Possibly in that category for most and yet to play at this year’s festival are Modern Space, Birds of Bellwood, Flavia Coelho, Tintamare, French world music players Gabacho Maroc and dozens of others.