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Studio Milwaukee Session: Victoria Canal

Jen Ellis

Victoria Canal’s Studio Milwaukee Session on a drizzly Thursday afternoon was a full-circle moment for two reasons — one she knew about and another she didn’t until halfway through.

As the globe-trotting singer-songwriter shared with us before going on the air, this wasn’t her first time on stage in our performance space. Almost four years earlier, she was the guest artist at Grace Weber’s Music Lab, performing for the students in attendance and sharing some lessons learned from her then-burgeoning career.

Little did that version of Canal know, less than three years later she’d be seated at a piano two feet away from Coldplay’s Chris Martin performing “swan song” prior to its release on her 2022 debut EP, Elegy.

Canal hasn’t lost an ounce of that momentum and this past August put out her second collection of songs, WELL WELL. She opened the session with two songs from the EP, introducing them by noting how both address “body image and body acceptance.”

“This is the first time I’ve written about my body,” she explained. “I was born with a limb difference and just always felt pretty different. I was kind of tired of being so hard on myself, so I’ve been singing these songs all around on tour this year, and it’s been really special to see that I’m not the only one going through this experience.”

She then added with a laugh, “The coolest truth is: You can be hot and disabled at the same time.”

While Canal’s easygoing on-stage presence injected a bit of levity, the performance was all about her very serious talent. Bouncing between piano and guitar, she had the room swaying along as she opened with her first pair of sister songs: “She Walks In” and “Shape” from the new EP. She explained that approach to 88Nine’s Dori Zori during the mid-set interview, saying, “That’s kind of how I see songs. Underneath a topic, it branches out into this sort of family tree of material.”

It was during the chat that the day’s second full-circle moment popped up. Canal shared how she landed her first touring gig as a freshman at NYU, getting invited to open and provide backing vocals for Michael Franti — the first artist to ever play a Studio Milwaukee Session at our Walker’s Point home.

You can hear more of the conversation and Canal’s performance using the player at the top of the page, and find an even deeper interview with Radio Milwaukee’s Salam Fatayer right down below. Canal will also expand on her session with a full concert experience tonight at the Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall. The free show starts at 7 p.m., with doors opening at 6 p.m.

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Set list

  1. "She Walks In"
  2. "Shape"
  3. "Black Swan"
  4. "swan song" (non-broadcast performance)
Victoria Canal talks with Radio Milwaukee's Salam Fatayer