First Up with RBCxMusic is a program dedicated to providing emerging Canadian artists with a platform for exposure, funding, education and mentorship opportunities. The initiative kicked off in May 2020 when the realization hit that the performing arts sector was in peril. Since that time, First Up has helped fund numerous virtual concerts and  supported more than 150 artists.

For performers, the program is a lifeline, and an opportunity to remain in the spotlight—which is vital for their careers. For audiences, First Up has provided uplifting entertainment during an incredibly difficult time, and introduced Canadians to incredible emerging artists. 

Singer-songwriter Miranda Joan was one of the artists selected in this year’s talent pool. We caught up with her to find out what it takes to make it in the music industry today, and so much more. 

What does your music give you?

Music is my outlet and my soft place to land. There is not a bump or bruise I haven’t bandaged in words and melodies and it’s in this space of self-expression that I often find healing. Most of the time music is the only thing that really makes sense, so among a long list of things that music gives me, I think sanity may be at the very top!

What does being part of First Up with RBCxMusic mean to you? How does it help?

First Up with RBCxMusic gave me a lot of hope this year. In an otherwise challenging stretch of time for performers and artists, this program has provided some wind beneath my wings, as well as reassurance to continue on this path that I’m on. Specifically, it has helped with funding certain artistic endeavours of mine this year, as well as provided opportunities for connection with other Canadian artists, exposure and virtual performance opportunities.

What’s your go-to song or artist when you need a lift? 

Any Stevie Wonder song, but “As” is always a great place to start. Stevie pretty much hits all the emotional needs!

What’s the best piece of advice someone gave you, when it comes to making it in this industry?

A friend of mine who has had some incredible success in the industry once told me that the key for him was perseverance, staying in the race and working really hard. It sounds simple but I think keeping the idea of the marathon versus the sprint top of mind has been a grounding force for me and kept me going. I’ve always wanted a life in music and that’s exactly what I’m doing. I’m in it for the long haul and there’s still a lot of living and creating ahead of me!

What does gender inequality look like in the Canadian music scene? 

I think we see the greatest discrepancy in gender inequality on the business side of the industry as well as behind the board. Most producers are male and most people running the big business behind the industry are male. Meaning that to make most of what I’d like to have happen actually happen, I am seldom dealing with women which feels like an unfortunate imbalance and a missed opportunity. 

What steps do you think need to happen to close the gap?

I think supporting women in positions of power and leveling the playing field for access to those positions would be a great step in closing the gap. I also think encouraging women in leadership roles – I’m now thinking in the creative process – and increasing visibility in an effort to shine a light on the women who are in those producing/mixing/mastering/engineering seats would be meaningful in changing the status quo and empowering future generations of female creators. 

Tell us about the most memorable concert you ever attended…

Stevie Wonder Songs In The Key of Life tour at Madison Square Garden. He played the entire record and performed for almost three hours. From the moment he stepped on stage he had the entire crowd in his hands. It was remarkable. I was in the nosebleeds and still felt the power of his performance and his music. It was magical to be in a space that large and still feel so connected. I’ll never forget it. Also, he sounded as good as the record. In his 70s…….. I mean, come on!

What’s helped you get through the past year and a half in COVID? Supported your mental health?

My loved ones helped me and continue to help me get through this time. I am forever grateful for my family and friends – special shoutout to my mum with whom I lived nine months of this past year with. I truly don’t know what I would have done without her and my loved ones limitless support in these challenging times. Love got me through this past year and a half of COVID. Love kept me rooted in the earth when I began to feel my feet lifting and my mind tilting. Love brought me back and that love looked like family and music. Thank you to my fellow artists and creators who brought us beauty in these times. I think it’s safe to say that at some point we all turned to art for comfort, for connection and for escape, and I think it’s important we acknowledge and honour the artists who gave us those gifts. Thank you. 

Watch the stunning video for “Home”, Miranda’s latest single here

While COVID-19 continues to impact the live entertainment industry, RBCxMusic will continue to direct the majority of its efforts towards supporting the creative community. As live music returns, First Up with RBCxMusic will become a part of RBCxMusic’s partnership with Live Nation Canada and provide unique in-person experiences for both emerging artists and fans.