You can view a video of this entire conversation, or listen to a podcast of it by clicking here.
I got a sense of how far ahead Suzie LeBlanc dreams and plans very early in my conversation with her the morning of October 22, 2013. We were sitting in a book-lined seminar room at Massey College in the University of Toronto, talking about the reason for her 24-hour in-and-out flying visit — an event at Massey College that same evening to celebrate the launch of I Am in Need of Music, songs on poems by Elizabeth Bishop, a CentreDiscs CD that not only showcases LeBlanc’s soaring soprano but also testifies to her tenacity and vision as a questing collaborative artist with considerable staying power.
The poet Elizabeth Bishop of the CD’s title was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts in 1911; so 2011, her centenary, was the raison d’être for this particular project. But as LeBlanc explains, “It started even sooner than that with me finding out about Elizabeth Bishop in 2007 ... In 2007 I found this leaflet [about Bishop] in Great Village, and soon after I met Sandra Barry, an independent scholar who knows everything there is to know about Bishop ... She’d had a dream. Elizabeth Bishop was born in Massachusetts so she was American by birth. She spent a lot of time in Great Village, Nova Scotia as a child, and three of her grandparents were Canadian — were actually Maritimers — and she always wanted to be Canadian. She wrote, ‘I’m three quarters Canadian and one quarter New Englander.’ And she stuck to that story. She was very attached to this land, which was like her motherland.”