In Why Music?, Nansee Hughes explores how storytelling has run through her Scottish family, and how it has brought her to a life of music.

“My whole family is full of storytellers. I doubt any of them think of themselves in that way, in fact, my grandfather probably would have said we’re just good bullshitters. That’s just the way we are. It’s ingrained in our blood. That’s how Scottish people connect and remember.”

“A lot of the time, Scots put their stories into song, which is why there are so many folk songs written. I remember long road trips to Saskatchewan to see my grandparents, singing weird little songs, mostly old war ditties, taught to my dad from his dad. My dad and grandpa always had a song at the tip of their tongues.”

“I was never good at telling stories the way that my brother and sister were – I guess that’s really why I got into music. That’s how I tell my stories.”

Dramatic Coloratura Soprano, Nansee Hughes, recently made her role debut in the roles of Pterodactyl in Langan’s Dino Opera and Mother Gothel in Rapunzel with Vera Causa Opera (2020). She has performed the roles of The Fire, The Princess, and the Nightingale in Ravel’s The Child & The Spells with Vera Causa Opera (2019), Lillian in McCune & Cavanagh’s Y2K Black Death Oratorio with Pop Goes the Opera (2018), Giulietta in Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Opera NUOVA (2016), Atalanta in Handel’s Serse (2010) and the Dew Fairy in Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel (2009) with the University of Alberta Opera Workshop, and the young lover in Mercury Opera’s production of Il Tabarro (2009).

Equally as comfortable in concert, Ms Hughes made her orchestral debut with the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Carlos Foggin, was the soprano soloist in performance of Mozart’s Laudate Dominum (St. Anthony’s Parish), Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (Schola Cantorum Women’s Chorus), and Handel’s Messiah (Grande Prairie Regional College & McDougal United Church). Nansee has also performed for the Edmonton Polish Culture Society, welcoming the Polish Ambassador to Canada, Andrzej Kurnicki.


Thank you to Nansee for sharing her project and artistic voice. You can find more of Nansee on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, as well as by visiting her website.


The Artist Statement Project was created as a part of AtG and University of Toronto’s National Opera Intensive program in August 2021. To explore more projects by participating artists, click here. To learn more about the National Opera Intensive, click here.