Fresh off a gig as one of the opening acts for April Wine at Alderney Landing on August 27 and three nominations at this year’s Music Nova Scotia Awards, Halifax singer-songwriter DeeDee Austin‘s star continues to rise.
I remember thinking that is going to be me one day; I’m going to be up on that stage. – DeeDee Austin on seeing Nova Scotia rapper Classified perform at Alderney Landing at age 11.
“It was a blast,” says Austin of her opening performance for the iconic Canadian rock band in front of a hometown crowd.
The largest crowd she has performed for to date, Austin says the experience was surreal. “It was definitely a rush. It was like I was living a dream, and I’m very grateful for the opportunity.”
But even at just 16 years old, Austin’s dream of becoming a musician has been years in the making.
And while she first found her love for music thanks to church organist Maxine Hibbits who mentored her early on, ironically, it was watching Nova Scotia rapper Classified playing at Alderney Landing at age 11 that solidified her resolve to pursue a musical career.
“That also was just surreal,” she says. “I remember thinking that is going to be me one day; I’m going to be up on that stage.”
With her new determination, Austin began writing songs and first entered the recording studio at the age of 12, continuing to record enough music for her first EP, Stepping Stones.
Released in 2021, along with nominations for Indigenous Artist of the Year and SOCAN Songwriter of the Year, the six-track album has been nominated for New Recording Artist of the Year at this year’s Music Nova Scotia Awards.
“I decided to name it Stepping Stones because these are literally the stepping stones to where I am today,” she says. “It was literally the first song that I’d written at age 11 to the last song I’d written at 15.”
Largely drawing inspiration from her Indigenous roots, Austin says her music has been described as having a Jimmy Buffett vibe mixed with Taylor Swift’s pop sound.
“A lot of energy goes into my music,” she says. “If you come to one of my performances, you can expect to sing along. There is also a lot of interactions and movement going on.”
At this year’s Halifax Urban Folk Festival (HUFF), Austin will get another opportunity to show off her musical chops as the host of the now sold-out inaugural Youth Songwriters’ Circle on September 4.
Alongside Austin, the free matinee show will feature other Nova Scotia up-and-comers, Avery Anderson, Brooklyn King, Chloe Rudolf, Eliza Rhinelander, Emily Mitchel, Noemie, Piper Jones and Silas Bonnell.
“As the host, I am going to explain a little bit about each artist and then it will be a very conversational performance,” she says. “You’ll get to hear a lot of different genres and the artist’s perspectives on how they write music. So all around, it will be a cool experience and a killer show.”
But before she takes on the hosting duties, Austin is set to release her latest single, Sixteen, on September 2. Immediately following her hosting duties at HUFF, she will board a plane for Toronto, where she will perform for a Truth and Reconciliation event.