JOCELYN Pettit found inspiration for her vocation at the age of four.
An uplifting performance by Natalie MacMaster at the Salmon Arm Roots and Blues Festival convinced Pettit to follow in the Cape Bretoner's fiddling footsteps. Pettit picked up the fiddle when she felt ready to play at age eight.
Since then, the now 17-year-old has travelled across Canada, the U.S., Scotland and Malaysia performing Celtic music. She'll perform on the final evening of the week-long IGNITE! Youth Arts Festival at the Cultch, May 19.
It'll be the third time the teen from Squamish has played Vancouver's largest youth-driven arts festival.
It's obvious why the youth panel selected Pettit from an open audition, says Robert Leveroos, youth program manager at the Cultch.
"She's amazing," he says. "Her work that she showed this year with the loop pedal is just really, really interesting. She just embodies what the festival is about, showcasing what young people are doing on their own."
Sheer joy animates Pettit's face in a photo snapped during IGNITE! last year.
"It's really feel-good music and makes you want to dance," she says. "I love sharing it with people and just travelling and performing."
Pettit first performed at a Mother's Day concert in a church in Squamish at age nine, started step-dancing at 12, composing her own music at 13 and released her own album when she was 15
When she performs at this years IGNITE!, Pettit will share the stage with Francesca Tan, an accomplished pianist and dancer from Abbotsford who she used to play with in the North Shore Celtic Ensemble.
She'll also perform as The Jocelyn Pettit Band at the In The House Festival in June.
The cornerstone of The Cultch's Youth Program, the annual IGNITE! Youth Arts Festival has been running for 13 years. It features music, literary, dance and cross-disciplinary nights, with the annual Fruit Basket show, May 18, focusing on performances about gender. These shows run at 8 p.m. in the Cultch's Historic Theatre while shows of the Young Playwrights Festival starts at 6 p.m. in the Culture Lab. The playwrights festival features three original one-act plays and two are performed each night. Art by local youth will fill the Cultch's gallery.
A panel of youth aged 13 to 24 organizes the IGNITE! festival. Youth can join the panel at any time throughout the year.
Teens involved in the IGNITE! Mentorship Program receive one-on-one guidance from accomplished artists from across Canada and around the world. They'll showcase what they've learned at the Cultch May 31 to June 2.
Pettit, who graduates from high school this year, doesn't need a mentor to know what she wants to do with her life. She wants to perform, record and teach music fulltime.
"I'm really looking forward to the festival and all the other performances and happenings coming up," she says. "I just love what I do and plan to continue doing it."
For more information, go to thecultch.com.