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Former Juno nominee from Comox again making music

Victoria-based musician recalls early years in the Comox Valley
Chrissy Steele was nominated for two Juno Awards in 1992. Photo supplied

When she was a teenager growing up in the Comox Valley — back when the Loft Cabaret was in full swing — Christina Southern convinced the band, Bowser Moon, to let her onstage to sing Bruce Springsteen’s Pink Cadillac.

She was too shy to sing lead, and didn’t even know the words, so she sang backup.

That night provided a glimpse into her future as Chrissy Steele, who went on to embark on a music career that took her and her bandmates to places like Madison Square Garden in New York, and opening for Jethro Tull and Bryan Adams. By 1992, she had been nominated for a pair of Juno Awards — Most Promising Female Vocalist and Hard Rock Album of the year for Magnet to Steele. Alanis Morissette won the former and Rush the latter for Roll the Bones.

Before entering the world of rock ’n roll, she had attended Tsolum School and later Vanier Secondary. Her father, Bill Southern, was a Comox alderman and school principal who remained in the Comox Valley. Southern would regularly visit her father until 2015 when he passed away at age 91.

“My connection with the Valley will always be a fond memory,” said Southern, now a Victoria resident. “I still consider Comox to be my home. The music program was amazing in the 1970s.”

Back then, she majored in voice and classical guitar at the Courtenay Youth Music Camp at Vanier, which she describes as a “fantastic experience.” She would spend the summer studying music and playing classical guitar, which her older brother Phil taught at the time.

Another brother, Bryan, wrote most of the lyrics of songs she recently released.

“Bryan and I used to put on lunchtime concerts in the library at Vanier,” she recalled laughing.

Southern retired from music in the early-1990s, and pursued other lines of work, namely graphic design, and marketing for non-profits. But a chance meeting with Glen Willows of Harlequin fame prompted a return to music. Together with Bryan, the trio started writing and recording songs.

“It just kind of fell in my lap,” she said. “It turned into a revisit of my career. I didn’t really like the way my career ended before. I wanted to re-write the ending so it’s a bit more positive. We took a shot at it, and what came out was the first song, Insidious, in October 2021.”

She recently released a second song, Unrequited (Remember Me), which can be heard on all streaming platforms.

Southern is finding that life as an independent musician requires a great deal of work but does not yield a lot of money.

“You have to do it for the love of it,” she said. “I think the industry is so over-saturated…It’s so different now because there’s really not any gatekeepers now to what’s good and what’s not on the airwaves. You have to cut through the noise to get noticed, and labels don’t sign anyone that’s not already got a huge following. So you have to build your own following now to make it as an artist.”


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