TEACHER, PERFORMER, SHELBURNER
Noni lives and teaches music in Shelburne, where she’s involved in helping to build Shelburne’s musical and artistic profile. Her regular gigs include teaching at Aardvark Music in Orangeville, and working as Musical Director of LP Stage Productions in Shelburne.
So I’m online, and I go, “I’ve got to hear some of this woman’s music.” I’m looking and looking and looking… nothing. Then I go, she just got married, and I find Noni Lindsey, and I think… that’s you?
That’s me! I got married 2015, so I guess I’m Noni Thomas but my maiden name is Noni Lindsey.
So if you do any more recordings and performing, who are you going to be?
I think I may just stick with who I am now.
When you perform, do you keep it in the gospel tradition?
It depends. The EP that I released was all original, so it was songs written by me in the gospel genre. But there are times when I have performed, and if it’s an event where they need a jazz singer, then you morph to the jazz standards and what not. But when it comes to original music, you’d classify it under gospel.
Where does that come from?
I grew up in the church. My earliest exposure to music was in the gospel genre, but I’ve been exposed to a lot of different styles of music. I went to a performing arts high school in the music theatre program there, where you’re exposed to all of that stuff, and then I was in the jazz program at Humber College. And on the side I also love R&B, soul music.
Have you always made a living, made your life in the music world?
Well, I used to work at the airport, I worked for Delta Airlines for a year or so. It was a great job in terms of travel benefits and all that, but in terms of my brain, for a creative person it got to be very monotonous. You’re always asking the same thing, getting people on flights, checking them in, boarding them on the plane and it’s always the same: where are you headed today, can I get your passport, how many bags are you checking…
It was a great job to have but I was also saying to myself, I can’t do this anymore. Then a friend told me about a music school that was looking for music teachers, and after a year I discovered Merriam School of Music in Oakville, where they did teacher training and had a really good program. I’ve been doing that ever since. Once I moved up to Shelburne, I started offering lessons here and just found a way to try to get involved in community music.
You seem to like working with kids.
I really do. They’re very honest and they work hard, and working with a local theatre group has been fantastic. I’m excited to go to rehearsals. We put on Lion King Junior, I’m the musical director. I basically taught them all the music, all the songs. There’s also a lot of African dialects in there.
Are you still writing? How do you approach it: do you wait for the muse to hit?
I do. When I did the EP, there were songs that I had, and when I knew that I wanted to put something out then I took it like a job and wrote. But recently it’s been about when it hits me, when I can just take it out of the air.
And now you’re in Shelburne. How’s country living?
You know, the town slogan is, “A people place, a change of pace,” and I actually like it. I feel like if I had stayed in the city, some of the opportunities that I have been able to get up here, I just don’t think I would have been able to get down there. You can be involved with some of the stuff at town hall, and they are really trying to grow the arts up here. So being able to get involved on a ground level, I wouldn’t be able to do that in Mississauga.
So they’re open, bring on the youth, bring on the energy.
There are people who are very open to fresh blood, new blood, new ideas, but there will always be people who wonder if they will remain relevant. But they seem to be very open to trying new things. The economic development director in particular is really working at trying to bring all of the different performing arts groups together so that everybody can be on the same page and help each other, and not make anybody feel obsolete. But they’re really trying to promote the arts up here, to make it a vibrant artistic community.