FOOTHILLS MAGAZINE: Corrigans are bound by music

todayNovember 27, 2023 5

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Dad and his two daughters have been strumming and singing together for years.

Growing up surrounded by music has created lasting memories and a strong bond for a family in the Foothills. 

The Corrigan family has been picking, strumming and singing together for years. Father, singer and guitar player Brent Corrigan shared his passion for music with daughters Alandra and Marley, who both picked up guitar and started singing at an early age. 

The three family members have kept at it, through thick and thin, ever since. 

Growing up in a little mining town near Sudbury, Ont., Brent heard the country and fiddle tunes played by family members. With a mother who played piano and an uncle who strummed guitar, sang and played the fiddle, it’s not a stretch that the elder Corrigan decided to pick up a guitar himself. 

“As a kid, that’s why I first really got into it,” says Brent, who lives in the Blackie area.

Alandra lives in High River, while Marley calls Calgary home.

Brent’s formal introduction to strumming and picking came when he started taking guitar lessons at the age of 12. 

“I didn’t really learn much from that guy, but he introduced me to it at least,” he says. 

Eight or nine years later, in his early 20s, Brent said he scrounged enough courage to start playing music in front of an audience. Those were the days of Willie and Waylon, Randy Travis and John Anderson, he says. 

At around that time, Brent moved out west and brought his guitar with him.  

“Country was getting real popular then,” he says. “I was probably in my late 20s.” 

Later, his children would take a serious interest in following their dad’s lead and Alandra says some of her earliest memories involve music. 

“Obviously, we grew up with dad playing,” she says. “I can’t imagine our life without music.” 

There were many nights that she recalls singing along during gatherings at the house, and many nights falling asleep to the sound of her father’s strumming and singing.

Alandra remembers her first guitar was a little Washburn acoustic that she got before she was 10. A couple of years later, with an electric guitar, she really started playing, and shortly after that, began entering singing contests. 

“We did the old Canadian Finals Rodeo singing competition,” she says. “I entered in with dad.” 

That was the start of years spent playing on stage for Alandra, either alone or with her dad, and sometimes with her sister. 

“I started playing in bars and restaurants with dad, playing in jams, writing some music,” Alandra says. 

The two sisters learned the ropes of playing guitar from their dad. 

“It’s a little bit of a running joke, that it’s hard to learn from dad because he’s so good,” Alandra says. 

They have played at weddings, fundraisers and other events. Brent and Alandra are booked to play at Wintersong, a benefit concert in High River for the Foothills Fetal Alcohol Society in November. 

When the family plays together, democracy prevails and they like to give each other an equal number of songs. 

While the three all work full-time, it’s Marley who has played the most out of anyone over the last few years. Alandra describes her sister as a talented musician and vocalist, and a phenomenal songwriter. 

“She’s such a good storyteller,” Alandra says. 

Marley goes as Marley Claire when she’s singing, using her middle name. 

After graduating from university, Marley began writing and booking shows. She’s released three original songs, with plans for more. Marley says she’s grateful to have grown up surrounded by music. 

“It’s so nice to always have my dad and sister to play music with,” she says. “It’s gotten us through some really hard times and made the good times better.” 

As Marley continues to write, record and perform, she says the family has been incredibly supportive. 

Growing up in a musical home, they were never forced into playing, although it was suggested they get on top of practicing, laughs Alandra. 

As a fan of the stage her whole life, all she wanted to do was sing and play music, she says. 

“There’s nothing better than being on stage, and specifically onstage with dad and Mar.” 

Performing together gives them a chance to celebrate their relationship, she says. Besides, the three know each other’s sounds and can harmonize like only family can. 

“Blood harmony is just fantastic,” Brent says. 

Singers from the same family often have voices that blend well together, which some call blood harmony, he says. 

There may have been some sisterly competition in the past, but Alandra says that being able to bounce writing ideas around, or trade songs with her sister, is something special. Music is the love language of the family, she says. 

“There’s so much music in the good times and the bad times and the day-to-day.” 

Her brother, Carter, passed away suddenly when he was 19, and Alandra, Marley and Brent each sang a song at his memorial service, and then they all sang a song together. 

At other times, songs have stood in for speeches, and songs have been written to welcome new members of the family. 

“One of the things that’s so special to me is that no matter what happens, there’s always a song that we kind of have, or that we have those memories,” Alandra says. 

All three have done some song writing, with Brent and Marley releasing their music. 

Brent had been kicking around the idea of writing a song about Carter’s passing for years, he says. 

“I finally did, I wrote that song and then recorded.” 

He’s written “a bunch of songs,” and recorded two, with a third in the works. 

Growing up around music was one of the best parts of childhood, and it was easy to take for granted, Alandra says. 

“(Music) was just something we always did as a family,” she says. 

Marley started playing mandolin at around 10, and the two would play together in concerts and with their dad. 

“I have really good memories of him kind of coaching me through different singing competitions or different shows,” Alandra says. 

Over the years, dozens of songs took on special meaning for the family, she says. When a song she recognizes comes on, she thinks, ‘Oh, that’s dad’s song, that’s Marley’s song, that’s a song from this thing.’

“Still to this day, there’s just so much memory in songs,” she says. 

With two young kids of her own that are starting to dance and sing, Alandra looks forward to passing the love of music on to them. 

“Getting to pass some of those memories down and share those same songs is pretty special,” she says. 

With two small children she hasn’t been as active lately, but sees herself hosting jams, playing with her sister more and getting on stage for the odd show. When you’re younger and playing music, there’s ambition and a drive for fame, but that changes over the years, she says. 

“One of the things that I just crave so much now is just having music constantly through life. Even if I’m playing a show once a month, that would be amazing.” 

For his part, Brent says he’ll continue to play the odd gig, but is happy to sit back and let his daughters carry the torch. 

“For the most part I’ll let the girls give’er,” he says. “It’s no fun packing up gear at two o’clock in the morning for the second night in a row.” 

Songs recorded by Brent Corrigan and by Marley Claire are available on streaming services. Brent has released Bottled Up Inside (Carter’s Song) and Twang the Dang Thang, while Marley has released 8 Beer Buzz, Second Chances and 2AM. 

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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