Sibling musical duo Emily and Thomas Conway are making real noise in the local music landscape, giving them true cause for celebration this Christmas season
In Newfoundland and Labrador, perhaps more than anywhere else in Canada, the holidays are a time for music and family. Thomas and Emily Conway don’t have to look far for either.
The brother and sister duo – ages 13 and 16 – have been building an impressive profile under the stage name Conway, and their commitment to career growth and musical maturation is far from child’s play.
Multi-instrumentalists both – guitar, fiddle, bass, harmonica, piano, mandolin, violin, clarinet, win whistle and bodhran are among their instruments of choice – the duo have grown in leaps and bounds in recent years, earning high profile billings at the George Street Festival, Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, East Coast Music Awards and Bowring Park 100th Anniversary Celebration.
Sitting down at The Herald offices, the duo share thoughts on the ties between music and family, growing as artists, and their upcoming NTV Christmas special.
The Music Bug
First off, back to beginnings. Thomas and Emily have known from pre-school days (or earlier), that the music bug was something they’d be hard pressed to shake.
“I feel like it’s been something I’ve known my whole life,” Emily shares. “I was three and my dad was a musician and he’d play on his own. I’d want to get up on stage and play a song and have him back me up. I was three and that’s what I wanted to do … For as long as I can remember I always said that was what I wanted to do.”
For Thomas, his love of music began with a simple guitar strum.
“It was back when I got my first guitar,” he begins. “I was messing around and it had the little cd that came with it and one pick. I went in the room and I learned a chord and I’d run back out and show dad. It was like ‘hey, I should play some music!’”
Beginning with performances at their home church of St. Peter’s Parish in Mount Pearl, Emily and Thomas gradually grew more confident in their abilities. Today, with roughly five years of performances under their belts, they command the stage with a confidence and maturity rare for even the most seasoned of artists.
A Conway Christmas
That professionalism was on full display at the recent Live At Heart NL in the Burin Peninsula this past October. Conway wowed a field of industry experts – including Grammy winning legend Jeff Bova – earning critical praise, an invitation to Live At Heart Sweden, and a show at the Beach Celtic Festival in Toronto.
Much of Conway’s success can be attributed to their natural chemistry. The in-sync relationship extends beyond the stage, reflecting the real special bond between a brother and sister pairing closer than most.
“We probably spend more time together than a typical sister and brother would, because we do this together,” says Emily. “I feel like we are in tune with each other. Since we started performing we’ve had this thing where we’ve been able to understand each other and come up with things like songwriting where we’re on the same page. It just works. We’ll try something and we’ll just do the same thing.”
The Christmas rush is real for the Conway siblings, who find themselves trekking across the island for a host of holiday inspired performances this December, including their very own holiday special on NTV, fittingly titled A Conway Christmas.
“When we were younger we loved the side of Christmas where it’s Santa Claus, presents and meeting up with family. Now where we’re doing different things and performing and playing Christmas songs we absolutely love that as well,” Emily explains. “I love Christmas songs so much, so this time of year where we get to do that is awesome. I love both sides of that.”
As for the future, Air Miles will be needed to keep up with the lengthy international plans for the now in-demand duo, who will surely see their profile rise in 2019.
“I just knew and have always known that this was something that I wanted to do, even when I was little,” Emily says on Conway’s future. “I’m so excited to be able to take the next step in our career, to be able to possibly tour globally and in other parts of the world and be able to take it too the next level. It’s crazy exciting, it’s definitely for me.”
A Conway Christmas airs Dec. 23rd from 5-6pm and on Dec. 26 from 11:30 am-12:30pm on Canada’s Superstation NTV. For more visit conwayfamily.ca