by Nat Frothingham
Singer Miriam Bernardo will appear in concert, along with composer-guitarist-arranger Michael Chorney and bassist Robinson Morse, at the Adamant Community Center on Martin Road on Saturday, October 11, from 7 to 9 p.m.
Bernardo has far-flung family roots: Her father is from Cuba, her mother’s family from Newfoundland.
Bernardo was born in Boston but grew up in a cabin without running water in Athens, Vermont, a small town in Windham County.
“I grew up loving anything I could sing to,” Bernardo told The Bridge. “My grandmother would play music in the kitchen. We’d have a dance party.”
As a teenager, Bernardo’s singing idols included Joni Mitchell, Bonnie Raitt and Aretha Franklin. “These singers opened up my ears,” she said, to what she calls “my passion.” A large part of that singing passion consists of “going into the inner part of myself.” She also paid special tribute to Montréal singer Lhasa de Sela, who died of breast cancer at the age of 37, as an influence. “She was incredible, and she was one of my soul sisters I never got to meet,” Bernardo said.
De Sela, a singer and songwriter who sang in French, Spanish and English, succumbed to breast cancer at 37. She was frequently compared to another singer whose life was snuffed out early—Edith Piaf, the French pop legend. Describing de Sala’s voice, Bernardo said, “She was raw. Her singing came from the depths of her soul. It touches me.”
In her early 20s, Bernardo visited Cuba and Newfoundland. She spent some time in Jamaica, working in Kingston at a home for pregnant teenagers. “I love the music,” she said of reggae, Jamaica’s trademark genre.
Bernardo has sung in the Anais Mitchell folk opera Hadestown. She’s also part of a seven-piece, all-women band that will perform in Montpelier at Positive Pie on November 7.