Roxanne Potvin (born March 31, 1982, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) is a Canadian bilingual Gatineau, Quebec-based singer, blues guitarist, songwriter and vocalist. Born in Regina, where her father was a TV reporter for CBC, Potvin moved to the Ottawa area when she was two. Potvin has become in continual demand for clubs, festivals, and special events across Ontario and farther afield — Potvin’s schedule has included a flying trip to France for a major festival in 2007, she has played the prestigious Toronto Women's Blues Review show twice (most recently November 2007 at Massey Hall in Toronto) and in 2008 she was nominated as Female Vocalist of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards.
Born in Regina, where her father was a TV reporter for CBC, Roxanne moved to the Ottawa area when she was two. Just like the old cliché, her home was filled with music; Dad played guitar, Mom sang, and aunts and uncles played all sorts of other instruments, and jazz and pop music was on the record player all the time. Young Roxanne soaked it all in — Stones, Pink Floyd, Billie Holiday, Beatles — and she sheepishly admits that the first record she ever got was the “Jive Bunny” soundtrack.
However, accidentally catching Jonny Lang on TV was like being hit by lightening — “Man, he was SO cool!” she recalls. Lang led her, curiosity working overtime, to the music of B.B. King, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Muddy Waters and dozens of others — from Howlin’ Wolf to Aretha Franklin. At 15, she got her first guitar. “It was a white Japanese Telecaster,” she remembers now. “It had a buzzing in the strings they couldn’t fix, so I returned it to the store. And got another Tele, an American made cream one that I still play today. Cost me $675 and I paid it off in installments. I love it!”
Once she had the basics down, she became a fixture at Ottawa’s Rainbow Club, sitting in on the weekly jam sessions. One night, the bandleader talked to her before the first set: The regular guitarist hadn’t shown up, would she play lead guitar for the evening?
“I didn’t have time to be scared. And afterwards, they gave me $50.00 — it was the first time I had earned anything playing music. I was blown away…” As her search for new and different music continued, she found herself influenced by subtler, lesser-known artists, including guitarist Freddy King and singer Dinah Washington.
Roxanne is a woman of strong determination. She felt she had something to say, so in 2003 she wrote a raft of songs that, with hindsight, really set the bar high. With a new and original repertoire, she self-produced, self-financed, self-released and self promoted her first recording, “Careless Loving”. It did exactly what she hoped it would: Notched her career upwards to another level, and built her reputation as a songwriter as well as a singer and player. Local writers (and campus and CBC radio) embraced the CD, and the word began to spread.
As fans and industry people continue to discover her, she has been in continual demand for clubs, festivals and special events across Ontario and farther afield — Roxanne’s schedule included a flying trip to France for a major festival last year, she's played the prestigious Toronto Women's Blues Review show twice (most recently last November at Massey Hall in Toronto) and recently she been nominated as Female Vocalist of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards.
On stage, Roxanne combines an easy going confidence and style with fire and a wonderful innocence that engages her audience wherever and whenever she plays.
The new CD, “The Way It Feels,” is a sterling example of the way the promise of a talented musician; singer and songwriter can be fulfilled. Producer Colin Linden — the Nashville-based Canadian guitarist and writer with no less than 60 CD production projects to his name — helped bring together a cast of support players that included, in addition to Daniel Lanois, Bruce Cockburn, Wayne Jackson of the The Memphis Horns, members of the Fairfield Four, and one of her favourite songwriters and singers, John Hiatt. What brought Linden and the rest of them to this project was the strength and breadth of her songwriting and the authentic power of her old school voice.
“I can’t say how thrilled I am that these people came together to play with me on my songs,” she says, still shaking her head in surprise. “To cut a recording session with the Wayne Jackson of the Memphis Horns who has played on everything from Elvis’s ‘Suspicious Minds’ to Aretha’s ‘Respect’ — I mean, just how inspiring is that? And then to have John Hiatt in the studio in Toronto with me … if I couldn’t hear his voice on the record I’d think I dreamed that!”
“The Way It Feels” is the fulfillment of a dream that started many years ago. It is a major breakthrough for a fresh new voice.
And the way it feels, thank you very much, is just FINE….
Note: Roxanne Potvin signed with Alert Records late in 2005, and is now managed by industry veteran W. Tom Berry (Holly Cole, Kim Mitchell, Gino Vannelli).