90s icon Wendy Matthews moved to Australia in the 1980s from Canada, where she grew up, You may remember her for songs such as “The day you went away”, “Let’s Kiss (Like Angels Do)”, “I don’t want to be with nobody but you” and “Standing Strong”, to name but a few.
Did you know she did a French version of “The Day you went away?” We were lucky enough to hear her perform it at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival last year for Songs my mother taught me and it moved us to tears.
Wendy is currently touring the country and we had a brief chat with her on the road. Read on for our interview with Wendy Matthews.
A lot of people know you as Australian but many forget that you’re actually Canadian and grew up there. You were born in Quebec, in French-speaking Canada, I think?
I was born in Montreal Canada to English-speaking parents in a French-speaking province. Whether at school or on the street you, had to be pretty fluent to get by.
How often do you speak French these days?
There’s not much French spoken in Australia in general, so I speak it close to never. My father has lived in France for the last 30 years so i can brush up on it when I’m there, or in Montreal even though French Canadian is a very different language.
One of the songs for which you are best known is The day you went away. What do you think made that song so popular?
The wonderful thing about music is that everyone experiences a song differently according to their frame of reference in life. It’s one of those songs that suggests a mood or emotion and it can mean something different to so many. It’s one of those songs, I’ve heard so many stories from people over the years, on what it meant to them and it’s diverse.
Which of your songs is your favourite?
A favourite song changes according to a mood. I like to sing different songs for different reasons. Some are emotional, some frivolous fun, some I’m proud to have written, so it’s impossible to choose one.
You also recorded a French version of The Day You Went Away. What were the challenges in converting such a loved song into another language keeping its vocal rhythm without losing too much of the meaning/sound?
That took me a while, to be honest. It was like some crazy kind of algebra, and math is not my forte. Trying to fit a certain amount of syllables into a certain amount of beats per bar whilst trying to maintain the same meaning of the song was a challenge but I got there in the end.
Do you plan to record any of your other songs in French?
The Day You Went Away was about to be released in France as well as Canada so it made sense and had a purpose at the time.
You’ve had a career of several decades. How has your approach to writing and performing changed over time?
I am not a technical singer. I don’t read or write music so it took me a while to build enough confidence to start putting down ideas and asking fellow musicians to play the chords that i was singing to them. For me it’s been a matter of gradually built confidence. For stage as well. I’m naturally not an extrovert so that too has been a gradual thing, to feel comfortable and spontaneous on stage.
We thank Wendy Matthews for this interview and look forward to seeing her in concert.
KEY INFO FOR WENDY MATTHEWS’ TOUR
Wendy Matthew’s upcoming tour dates, venues and ticket links
22/4: Regal Theatre Adelaide https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/965026
28/4: Burnie Arts Centre TAS https://www.burniearts.net/Whats-On/2023/Wendy-Matthews
29/4: Clarendon Arms Hotel TAS https://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/wendy-matthews/148994
30/4: Longley International Hotel TAS https://tickets.oztix.com.au/outlet/event/2a5ab417-00f0-4363-a2d5-5e6b9e2a67b0 SOLD OUT BUT WAITLIST AVAILABLE
13/5 and 14/5: Tallagandra Hill Winery, Gundaroo NSW https://tallagandrahill.com.au/news-and-events/wendy-matthews/ and https://tallagandrahill.com.au/news-and-events/wendy-matthews-second-show-sunday-14-may-2023/
21/5: Lizottes, Lambton NSW https://lizottes.com.au/live/shows/booking/3536
01/06: Birds Basement https://birdsbasement.com/show/1093/wendy-matthews
02/6: Musicland, Melbourne https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/1037753
What’s your favourite Wendy Matthews song?
For more events with French and Francophone links happening in Australia, check out our What’s on in April.