April Verch was born to her art.
Verch, a native of Canada’s Ottawa Valley, began dancing at the age of 3. She received her first fiddle on her sixth birthday. Now 40, Verch has combined her award-winning fiddling and step dancing with songwriting and singing into a dynamic stage show that’s been seen in Canada, Australia, China, the United Arab Emirates and beyond.
Verch will join Raleigh musician Joe Newberry Dec. 8 at The Cary theater for their annual holiday show highlighting connections between traditions of Canada and the Southern United States. The Newberry-Verch collaboration, a seamless blend of Canadian and Ozark/Appalachian styles, is a masterful fusion of shared interests and musical tastes.
“We have a lot in common, not only with music but with a philosophy on music and appreciation of it, and the roots of it,” Verch said in an interview.
“We really do fall into it easily, and I think that’s because we feel the same way about it and because we admire each other’s work. And we’re really good listeners. Any time we’re playing together, we’re listening to each other.”
Newberry is an award-winning banjoist and songwriter who is known to Triangle audiences from his work with former Red Clay Ramblers Jim Watson, Mike Craver and the recently deceased Bill Hicks. He has toured the United Kingdom and been featured on the BBC music series, “Transatlantic Sessions.”
Meanwhile, Verch is among her country’s most celebrated artists. She was named Canadian Grand Masters Fiddle Champion in 1997 and Canadian Open Fiddle Champion in 1998. Her cleverly titled 2001 CD, “Verchuosity,” earned a JUNO award (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Roots/Traditional Solo Album of 2001. And she performed at the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, as one of six artists chosen to represent the Canadian fiddle tradition.
Verch acquired her passion for country music from her father, who was in a country band when she was growing up, and the events she attended as a kid.
“There were classic country jamborees and dances,” she said. “So I grew up around a lot of Ottawa Valley country artists. They were some of the first people to influence me.”
Verch assembled the April Verch Band and began touring in 2000. Today, she spends around 200 days a year on the road. Married to her bassist/banjoist Cody Walters, she devotes time between tours at his home in Asheville or her’s in Pembroke, Canada.
Though raised on Canadian fiddle tunes, Verch’s repertoire is an Americana mix of genres and styles. Her diverse talents have earned her an international following.
“I think part of the key for me is to be able to play in a variety of different types of venues,” she says. “Also . . . I’m sort of versatile, so I’m not just playing bluegrass festivals, or just folk, or just Celtic. It makes it harder for marketing some times, but the good side of it is that I can play enough genres that I fit in different markets, which has been really good for keeping busy at it.”
Whether bluegrass, folk, or Canadian fiddle tunes, Verch follows her muse wherever it leads. These days, it’s leading her to Nashville, Tenn., where she’s recording an album of 1950s and ‘60s country classics. Her father will play guitar on one of the tracks.
“I’m going to record this classic country album and we might play the record for a weekend at a release show,” Verch says. “But the plan, then, is to take a few of those favorites and incorporate them into the live show but still have the variety. I feel that’s what I’ve become known for, and that’s where my heart is.
“I’m going to record the classic country album, but I don’t want to say I’m a country artist. I don’t want to pretend to be something I’m not.”
Whether performing with Newberry or her band, recording country songs or her original compositions, Verch pursues her career with determination and indefatigable verve. She attributes her success in part to the support and counsel of her parents.
“I do have a good work ethic, and I got that from both of my parents,” she says. “I feel very lucky that not only do they support my music but also teach me how to manage things. My mom taught me to keep books and be my own accountant and be organized. I’m sure they never thought I’d end up having a career in music, but it really serves me well.
“It’s not easy, and I don’t pretend that it is, but I do love it and I do feel like it’s my calling. So when it’s not easy, and I’m thinking, “Ahh, I don’t know . . . ,” I try to remember that it’s not always meant to be easy but it can still be what you were meant to do.”
What: Holiday Cheer with Newberry & Verch, presented by Six String Presents
When: 8 p.m. Dec. 8
Where: The Cary theater, 122 E. Chatham St., Cary
Tickets: $20 to $25 for adults; $15 for students
Info: 919-462-2055 or SixStringPresents.com