INTERVIEW: Musician, Patricia O’Callaghan, On Her First Nomination At the 2019 Juno Awards

Patricia O’Callaghan is a classically trained and multi-genre singer who has established herself as an incredibly versatile musician. She received her first Juno Awards nomination for Classical Album of the Year: Vocal or Choral this year. Read more about her creative inspiration and how music has always been a part of her life.

Congratulations on your JUNO nomination, Patricia! How did it feel to be nominated for the first time?

It felt really exciting actually. It feels great to receive acknowledgement from the industry. Plus friends and family get very excited about it and it’s so nice to share that with them! 

Tell us about the album Corona Divinae Misericordiae. What was it like working with the Elmer Iseler Singers and David Braid?

Well, honestly, I wasn’t in the studio at the same time as the Elmer Iseler Singers, but I do know many of them well, including the conductor, and they’re an awesome bunch. The composer, David Braid, is just, well, amazing. He has a remarkable musical brain and it is inspiring just to be near him. He is also a lovely human and very easy to work with, while at the same time being a total perfectionist…an unusual combination I would say. He had me in the studio four or five times, and really brought some exciting and new things out of me vocally. I usually can’t listen to recordings of myself after I’m finished the process, but this time it’s different. I’m really proud of my performance and actually enjoy listening to it! 

What is the process like for creating an album like this?

Deeply satisfying, intense, exhausting, fun, and costly! 

Was music always a part of your life? When did you know you wanted music to be your career? What was your personal creative journey like?

Music has always been a big part of my life, yes. And I would say I knew pretty early on that I wanted to make music my career. I knew as a teenager I wanted to be a singer, but what kind…that’s a different story, and actually, the journey is still ongoing! As one grows as a person and a musician one’s tastes and desires change. I have shifted from rock singer to opera singer to cabaret singer and every shade in between. Now I just call myself a singer of songs, because it really doesn’t matter what genre they come from…good songs are good songs, and that’s what I want to sing. 

What has been the most memorable moment for you in your career, besides getting nominated, of course!

Finding out about the nomination was a memorable moment actually… because I wasn’t notified. I just found out by checking the results online… I had been wondering why my twitter account (which I never check) had been going crazy all morning! And there are probably a handful of other highly memorable moments… some being magical musical experiences on stage, or being in a rehearsal and suddenly being filled with joy at the realization that I’m doing what I love to do with wonderful colleagues, and sometimes it’s being acknowledged or complimented by an artist I deeply admire.

What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned as a musician, working within the industry? What advice would you give someone else who wants a similar career?

Well, I think it’s important to know what our goals are– and to examine why they are our goals. Do I want to be a singer in order to be famous, or to make great music? Probably as a kid I dreamed about the ‘fame’ aspect of it, living up in remote northern Ontario as I did. Then as I got older abandoned that and became immersed in the music itself. One has to constantly reset one’s priorities and look at the motivation behind a decision. My goals at this point are to be happy and fulfilled doing what I’m doing, to do something meaningful for myself and hopefully for others. But in order to do that I need a certain degree of success, of course, or I will have no impact, and no work! But I believe if your inner goals are in alignment with your higher purpose, then worldly success will manifest. That, and, of course, you have to work really, really, really hard, all the time!!!

Who or what are your own personal inspirations that spark your creativity?

Nature and other artists are my two biggest inspirations. I think it’s important to get out into nature often– hiking, canoeing, or just sitting under a tree. And I love to go out to live music, dance, or theatre, and never fail to be inspired by some aspect of what I’ve seen and heard.

Last but not least, if you were to wake up with one super power, which power would you hope for and why?

Well, some of the best dreams I’ve ever had are when I’m singing really well, and as I’m singing I start floating higher and higher, until I’m sort of swimming through the air, so if I could do that in reality, well, that would be really cool!!!!!

Find Patricia’s music on her website at

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