I had the privilege recently of attending the launch party for the debut EP of young singer/songwriter MaestaR. MaestaR is the stage name for 15-year old Mathilde Robitaille, who got her start with the TV show ‘La Voix Junior”, before repeating the experience with “The Voice Kids” in France. Yeah, I know, and I can see some of you roll your eyes. But hear me out: this girl has talent and is working very hard to establish herself as a serious artist.
I’d last seen her live by chance, when a group of La Voix Junior alumni played an outdoor concert a few minutes from my house. Even then, she stood out from the rest by her understanding that live pop music is also a visual experience. She didn’t let the stage intimidate her and worked it to put on a nice performance.
Now with an EP of original material behind her (all self-released without any subsidies) and a new professional persona named MaestaR, this album launch was her coming out as a legitimate artist. At an age when a teenage girl is trying to figure out who she is, Mathilde is also defining who she is as an artist.
No longer tied to La Voix Junior’s organisation, Mathilde has been writing material (often with her father, composer Jean-Sébastien Robitaille) and working on a show for the better part of the last year. Her EP is split between energetic tracks and more introspective numbers, with lyrics driven by that teenage belief that the world can be changed if we just decide to do it.
Mathilde’s best quality is her fearlessness, and, while it may be personal bias speaking, I find her best when she plays cheeky, uptempo songs. She closed her EP launch set with a spirited cover of Aerosmith’s ‘Dude (Looks Like a Lady)’ and while the lyrics were at time inappropriate for a teenager, she totally owned the cockiness and abandon necessary to bring that song alive. Let’s hope she keeps that vibe in her music as much as possible.
Her performance, while miles ahead of what she’d previously offered, felt rehearsed at times, but it shows just how much work she’s putting into building her career. Her EP’s material covers a wide range of pop music, with a few standout tracks like ‘Blackout’ and ‘Mon Monde Imaginaire’ showing her as a well developed artist already.
This is just the beginning for MaestaR though; and she’s only 15 years old. She still has a lot of room to grow, but her artistry is undeniable. To build her own show at that age is remarkable, and whether or not (Mae)stardom is in her future, it’ll be interesting to follow her career.
He's also a regular contributor at the excellent news site Montreal Rampage