Nova Opens up in Her Return Home

Powerful voice, poetic lyircs: Heather Nova (Photograph by Vincent Lions)

Bermudian musician Heather Nova brought the Earl Cameron Theatre to life on Friday with a concert that highlighted all of her strengths — and a variety of talented local artists.

Nova fully embraced the Bermuda Festival’s theme of female empowerment with a stripped-down acoustic set that was still rich in melody and emotion.

For her return to the Bermuda stage, Nova brought a wide range of songs from her catalogue, including her biggest hits and songs from her upcoming tenth album, Pearl.

She also paid tribute to a variety of female songwriters, delivering renditions of songs by Tracy Chapman and Lorde among others.

Between songs, Nova delved into the history of her music, opening up about everything from abusive relationships to motherhood, from the challenges of living on a boat to the struggles of success.

Singing into a microphone adorned with lilies, Nova demonstrated the skills that earned her success on both sides of the Atlantic, blending her powerful voice and poetic lyrics for a memorable performance.

The acoustic nature of the show helped to lay bare the emotions that enrich her songs, and the open dialogue about the meaning and history of her music only amplified it.

While it was Nova’s name on the marquee, she welcomed a range of talented local guest performers during the show, each of whom showed they were more than capable of going toe-to-toe with the celebrated songwriter.

Kate Kayaian, a local cellist, was Nova’s sole accompaniment throughout much of the concert, but her talents proved to be a perfect counterbalance to Nova’s.

Her rich, soulful cello served as a comforting blanket next to Nova’s raw, nakedly emotional vocals — the musical equivalent of a warm bed on a rainy winter night.

The always exceptional Joy T. Barnum and Indigo Adamson, the winner of last year’s On Stage Competition, were both invited to the stage for duets, bringing songs by Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell to vivid life.

And poet Tiffany Paynter partnered with Nova on a very different but equally moving duet, merging Nova’s music with Paynter’s poetry.

The result a sometimes humorous and often touching piece of art about the female body that brought many in the house to their feet.

Nova also yielded the stage to upcoming local singer-songwriter Hana Bushara, who took the top prize at this year’s songwriting competition.

Bushara quickly showed why she was deserving of the accolade with her song Seed, which garnered raucous applause rivalling that of Nova herself.

Nova sent the crowd home happy after a rousing encore, leaving those in attendance to anticipate her next return to Bermuda.