Bluesfest locals: Alanna Sterling

July 4th, 2022 by  |  Published in Bluesfest locals, Features, Interviews, News

Alanna Sterling - promo

Alanna Sterling. Photo credit: Anndy Burniston

The Bluesfest locals series will introduce you to the talented music makers from the Ottawa area performing at this year’s RBC Bluesfest. Come on out early to Bluesfest and discover some great new music!

Alanna Sterling

Thursday, July 7
8pm to 9pm
Barney Danson Theatre


Alanna Sterling is a gender-fluid, genre-fluid vocal shapeshifter and multi-instrumental sorcerer. As an advocate for mental illness, their ultimate passion is to create musical movements out of moments of struggle, in hopes to work through life’s adversities and inspire others to overcome their own battles.

The Talent

Alanna Sterling – Vocals, piano, guitar
Massil Ait-Ouali – Guitar
James Rooke – Bass
Kira Montfort – Drums


What was your reaction to the news you’d be a part of Bluesfest and who was the first person you told?
When I found out I got into Bluesfest, my first thought was “That makes sense, I deserve it.” Of course I was excited, but I’d be more in shock if I didn’t get in. I work incredibly hard in all that I do and have made my mark on Ottawa. The first people I told were my bandmates.

Please describe your sound.
My sound is everything at once. I like to describe my genre as “genre-fluid” because it’s an ever-evolving form that defies categorization. When people ask “What kind of music do you do?” I respond with “Good music.” because I think that sticking with one genre is so limiting; it doesn’t matter what genre you play, the question is, Does it BOP? And if it bops, then that’s what I play.

How did you get started on your musical journey?
When I was a little fetus in my mother’s womb, I was listening to classical piano and choir singing. I was born into it, already singing and learning piano as a toddler, making up my own songs and dancing around to whatever music was playing on the cassette stereo. Growing up, I went through a lot of trauma and abuse, and music was the one thing that got me through. When I was around 11, I really got into poetry as well, and naturally, my poems became lyrics with guitar or piano to back them up. I’ve written hundreds of songs since, most of them to help me get through dark times and give me a vessel for expression where words alone otherwise fail.

What can music fans expect from your show? Will you be playing any new music at Bluesfest and/or releasing new music ahead of your performance?
We are going to be playing a ton of brand new pop-punk tunes I wrote this year that haven’t been heard before, as well as a handful of the songs off my brand new album Mind / Matter that just dropped June 24. And of course, we’re also giving you your favourites off the first album, Visible Spectrum. The new album, Mind / Matter, is my diary of my struggles and triumphs with mental illness and will be available on CD for purchase for the first time ever at Bluesfest.

What artists are you hoping to catch during this year’s Bluesfest?
Alanis Morrissette, Tash Sultana and Rage Against the Machine! A lot of the other artists I’ve already seen before but this will be my first time for those three. To be honest, I’ll probably be at the festival every day from open to close just wandering from stage to stage trying to catch all the shows.

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