Article and Photo by Jason Setnyk
Ottawa, Ontario – Last year, The Ottawa Music Industry Coalition (OMIC) announced the appointment of Melanie Brulée as its new Executive Director. Brulée, a renowned Franco-Ontarian artist, community leader, and mental health advocate, brings a wealth of experience and a passion for amplifying underrepresented voices in the music industry.
Born and raised in Cornwall, Ontario, Melanie Brulée’s journey in music began on the streets of Australia, where she honed her craft as a busker. Since then, she has ventured into multiple facets of the arts sector, garnering recognition for her talents along the way. Now, Brulée has chosen to step away from the stage to dedicate herself to empowering the music community in Ottawa.
Before assuming her role at OMIC, Melanie Brulée worked tirelessly behind the scenes as a consultant, mentor, booking and PR agent, and radio promoter for Indigenous artists, primarily affiliated with the esteemed Ishkode Records. Through these experiences, she developed a deep understanding of the challenges faced by underrepresented artists and a commitment to fostering inclusivity and diversity within the industry.
Brulée’s passion for collaboration and advocacy has driven her to spearhead numerous projects throughout her career. She is the proud founder of a women-led collective of songwriters, which serves as a platform for female artists to showcase their talents and support one another. Furthermore, Melanie has dedicated herself to fundraising and speaking engagements on behalf of mental health organizations, utilizing her platform to raise awareness and break down stigmas surrounding mental wellness.
Recognizing the importance of nurturing the next generation of musicians, Brulée has also developed empowering workshops for young individuals, focusing on songwriting and building self-confidence. Her dedication to uplifting communities extends beyond the music industry, as she seeks to connect, unite, and empower people from all walks of life.
Five Questions with The Seeker
1 – How has your background as a musician influenced your role as the Executive Director of the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition?
“Truthfully, I feel as though everything in my career has led me to this point. Without my years of successes and frustrations as a touring artist, I don’t think I’d be as effective as a leader. Like many, I’ve felt left out of the industry a lot as an artist, begging for scraps at times, and now I have a platform to change the industry from the inside out and offer opportunities for artists and music workers to get paid fairly and try my best to remove barriers for the next generation of creators.”
2 – What motivated you to transition from being a performer to focusing on amplifying the voices of underrepresented artists in the music industry?
“I hit a burnout point towards the end of 2019 after what looked like a great year on paper. Despite playing SXSW and a number of American festivals, I was exhausted and questioning a move out of the music industry, and then the pandemic hit. It was an opportunity to assess what I wanted in life, so I considered transitioning into working in mental health full-time. It turns out the universe had other plans for me- I’m deeper in the music industry than I ever have been, and I am so in love with my job!”
3 – Can you tell us about some projects and initiatives you have spearheaded to empower women in the music industry?
“In 2012, I co-founded a women-led collective called Ladies in Waiting in Toronto. We were a group of songwriters that would get together to run events, release compilation albums, run fundraisers for mental health, and partner together to show unity in a traditionally male-dominated industry. This group was pivotal in inspiring a younger generation of women and non-binary folks to pursue their music careers, and it inspired me to keep going!”
4 – How does OMIC promote Ottawa’s music scene and build new audiences? Are there any specific strategies or events that have been particularly effective?
“On top of working closely with the City of Ottawa to advocate for the music industry, OMIC has a number of professional development and programming activities throughout the year that helps embed music into the fabric of the city. Our City Sounds Live pop-up outdoor concert series is coming up mid-July to end of September in various locations around the city, and we just had our 4th annual Capital Music Awards where a sold out crowd of 650 people celebrated some of Ottawa’s finest talent. We are connected with other Ontario Music Cities such as Toronto, Kingston, Mississauga, and London (the first UNESCO-designated City of Music in Canada) to learn more about their strategies and create opportunities for cross-provincial collaboration.”
5 – As a musician yourself, how do you balance your artistic endeavors with your responsibilities as the Executive Director of OMIC?
“Turns out being an Executive Director is like freelancing on steroids! It’s a lot of work but it’s as challenging as it is satisfying. In my spare time, I’ve been hiking, doing hot yoga, and kickboxing. Although I’m not interested in performing at the moment, I recently attended a Syndicut Songwriting Retreat in Russell Ontario, and I really enjoyed connecting with inner songwriter again.”
Follow the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition and Melanie Brulée on Facebook.