With a brand new baby at home Pharis and Jason Romero weren’t able to attend the Canadian Country Folk Awards banquet in Calgary last week, but they are thrilled with their two nominations and a win.
Their duet album Long Gone Out West Blues released in February was nominated for Traditional Album of the Year Award and Traditional Singer of the Year/The Sue Goldberg Award.
Pharis won for Traditional Singer of the Year/The Sue Goldberg Award. Unfortunately, Pharis says the rules only let them put one name forward in the traditional singer of the year category.
They chose to put her name forward, but she says the award is really for both of them.
“I was totally shocked to win,” Pharis says. “In our minds the award is for both of us even if my name is on it.
“We are a team. It wouldn’t be the album that it is without both of us on it. We help each other to be better singers.”
Seventy artists and groups were nominated in 19 categories of the Canadian Country Folk Awards held at the University of Calgary Theatre Nov. 8-10 and hosted by CBC’s Shelagh Rogers and musician Benoit Bourque.
Other nominees in the Traditional Singer of the Year/The Sue Goldberg Award category were Natalie Edelson of The Blue Warblers for Birds; Ian Bell for Forget Me Not, When Far Away; Ken Whiteley for The Light of Christmas; and Mary Jane Lamond for Seinn.
In addition to Pharis and Jason’s Long Gone Out West Blues album, nominees in the Traditional Album of the Year category included Lume, Lume by Lemon Bucket Orkestra; Mosaik by Vishten; Tune Tramp by Erynn Marshall; and the category winner Seinn by Mary Jane Lamond and Wendy MacIsaac.
These days Pharis and Jason are sticking close to their Horsefly home with their first baby, Indigo Hope Romero, born Oct. 31 at home with her two sisters, mother and a mid-wife by her side.
The baby’s middle name, Hope, is a family tradition shared by Pharis, her mother, and her grandmother.
Pharis says she and Jason are already writing songs inspired by their first child.
“I think Jason has already written a few new banjo songs and I sing to her quite a bit so new little songs are coming out all the time,” Pharis says. “She’s pretty fun to sing to.”
Pharis is on the schedule to sing at the Medieval Market this Saturday with her sister, Marin Patenaude, but whether she is actually able to make it to the event will depend on the baby.
If she can’t be there to sing, people will still be able to get copies of their albums at the market.
In June Pharis and Jason were special guest performers at the live Prairie Home Companion radio show in Seattle.
There they were invited to join the show in New York this December.
But with the new baby they have rescheduled that appearance for next April.
Based in St. Paul Minnesota, she says the Prairie Home Companion is a travelling musical radio show with a 40-year history and more than four million listeners.
She says they have scheduled a short tour to Alberta in February to see how travelling with the baby goes and already have bookings set up for next summer at a pace they hope will be manageable with their new baby.
“It’s pretty neat,” Pharis says of motherhood.
Pharis and her siblings have been playing music together as a family with their father Geoff Patenaude since they were young.
While earning a degree in biology at the University of Victoria Pharis played with a number of groups and after university teamed up with the band Outlaw Social.
Her degree is in biology which took her around the province for a few years
For a number of years she worked as a biologist on mountain pine beetle studies and silviculture studies.
She also taught marine biology to students on sail boats and environmental education in classrooms across B.C. before settling into her musical career.
In addition to making music together Pharis and Jason make banjos together at their home in Horsefly.
“We are avid nature people,” Pharis says. “There are a lot of animals and birds on the migration path where we live and it gives us a lot of pleasure knowing they are there.”
Earlier this year, the Romero’s first album A Passing Glimpse won the Canadian Folk Music Association’s New/Emerging Artists of the Year Award.