Saturday 12 May 2018

Guest Partners Judy Savoie & Gilbert Babin. Author & Musician

The Scribbler is running a series of creative people that happen to be partners with other creative people. The third part of this series includes one former guest to the Scribbler, poet and author Judy Savoie (previous visit) and her musician partner Gilbert Babin. They have agreed to a 4Q Interview.

From NB to PEI to NS, Gilbert and Judy discover and indulge in the everyday richness of landscapes. Inspired by beaches, sunsets, wharfs, lighthouses, local people, and events, the couple capture the beauty of their rustic travels into a tapestry of poetry, music and photography.


 Undeniably a unique journey in time and nature - a soothing experience cultivated solely by the scopes of their imagination and creativity.

Judy is the author of two books. ‘Serendipity’ (2015) is a collection of poetry, prose and song lyrics. It expresses a love of music, photography and nature - all elements nurtured by life spent near the beauty of the ocean. The second book ‘All About Hats’ (2016) contains lighthearted, interesting stories, poetry and historical facts on the influential role of hats affecting all world cultures for countless centuries. It is based on research and collaborating personal experience with a life-long passion for hats.
Both books are available on at: http:\\ and http:\\, contacting her on her Facebook writer page at http\\facebook@judysavoiewriter, in person, or at related events.

Gilbert Babin is an Acadian singer-songwriter and instrumentalist. His songs, usually inspired by local events and places, contain a subtle Acadian poetry that can easily go unnoticed to the inattentive ear. He strives for musical simplicity and prefers creating songs that can be performed with only guitar and voice. His repertoire, consisting of 40 original and close to 100 traditional French songs, makes him very suitable for francophone cultural events and wild Acadian kitchen parties.

Q4: First question is for you Judy. Please tell us how your writing is going and what has taken place since your last visit.

JS: After my last book (Simply About Hats) was completed and our last visit in 2016, my momentum slowed down to almost a halt for about a year. It was a demanding challenge to write two books within a year apart.

The ice storm of January 2017 prompted me to turn to the pen for comfort during a complete blackout. The office I worked at closed early in the afternoon due to an unexpected major storm rapidly picking up intensity. My partner was working out of town at the time. I was totally unprepared for a treacherous two hour nerve-racking drive alone in my car from work in the city to our house in a rural community that normally would be a half hour drive. My car was very low in gas, with gas stations being shut down throughout the province due to power outages. As I plowed my way into the driveway, I felt such relief to finally be home safely. Within minutes, my car was encased in a solid sheet of ice and snow. As I got into the house, my heart sunk again, realizing I was without electricity, heat, light, or food (no time to shop), and my cell phone had become uncharged quickly as my car charger was not working properly. It turned dark very early, and I had absolutely no sense of time, no means of communication, and my only source of light was a small LED flashlight. Although the experience was frightening and foreign, my barely legible handwritten notes from a night of insomnia, turned out to be one of my best and favourite pieces, entitled "Ice King Serenade". I continued writing more frequently after that.

I was also motivated when I found many miscellaneous notes and journals of our day trips together, abandoned poems and ideas. I merged old and new pieces together to create an 85-page manuscript - poems were transformed into songs, journal entries into poetry, prose or lyrics, and a number of them deleted. It now has around 50 pages after many revisions. It will be a continuum of 'Serendipity' - another collage of poetry, prose and song, and photography. The prominent theme is nature, time and morality. The progression of my writing style is evident.


Last summer, I began to organize over 50,000 photos on my laptop into categories to simplify finding images for my next book, cd cover designs and other projects I have on the go. It is a lengthy ongoing work in progress.

Q4: How long have you been playing guitar and singing Gilbert. Has music always been a big part of your life?

GB: I started playing guitar at the age of 14. Supposedly, I told my family that I was going to my room and not coming until I knew how to play. Not sure how long I stayed in my room but did come out with an understanding of music. Months later someone pointed out that, my guitar was tuned wrong and I had to relearn how to play. I am entirely self-taught and learned through experimentation and observation. Music has been quite a journey and yes it has become a big part of my life. On the social side, most of my friends are musicians and on the spiritual side I still connect to higher levels through my instrument.



Singing however, was not a journey, it’s more like a necessary evil. My father and family always said I couldn’t sing and made fun of my singing so I only sang when I was alone. It was only in my mid-thirties that I started singing in front of people. I was writing a lot of songs, and the only way to get them heard was to sing them. Although I didn’t have a good voice, people would listen attentively to my lyrics which encouraged me to continue. My voice has improved since then.

Q4: You write many songs also Judy and collaborate with Gilbert. How does song writing (if it does) differ from your usual writing habits?

JS: I’ve come a long way in writing song lyrics since I started over five years ago. It has really evolved naturally but I still have much more to learn. My writing habits, whether it is poetry, prose, or music, are acquired through trial and error, constantly changing, yet flowing progressively in a way.

Initially, I separated writing poetry/prose from song writing. In both cases, the ideas or thoughts were put down, even if only a few words. In song writing, I get drawn to guitar instrumentals that Gilbert composes, and if it has a title, I instinctively know it must have words. The biggest challenge in song writing is that in music, there are beats and rhythmic patterns, as well the rhymes, which are slightly more complex to prepare than in poetry. That is the part I enjoy. I've also translated a few of his French songs into English. More recently, several of my older mediocre poems were converted into beautiful songs fitting perfectly like a puzzle. Using my cell phone, I have saved and recorded well over 500 spontaneous, one-of-a-kind short instrumental clips created in the middle of the night which I can listen to carefully whenever I want to.

Whether existing poem or new lyrics, the words are revised. When the lyrics flow well, I am eager for feedback. If it is solid, we try to record a fresh new instrumental track for me to practice on, followed by recording voice with lyrics as a draft.

I still write lyrics to Gilbert's creations, but not as frequently as at the beginning. Although I have written over 25 songs in five years, not all are ready for recording, and a few are incomplete.

Q4: You recently put together a CD of original Acadian songs Gilbert. Tell us about the songs and the recording process.



GB: I was not planning to make a cd at all. The dentist had removed one of my teeth and I thought that it had improved my voice. I was scheduled to get an implant the next day, so I decided to record a few songs in my home studio while the missing tooth made my voice better.

I just sat down and quickly laid the guitar tracks for 12 French folk songs. I then did the voice tracks for all songs. I then mixed the tracks into songs and burned a mp3 versions of the songs to a cd. I got the dental surgery done and held ice on my face for a few days. Judy and I started playing the CD in the car and were surprised at the quality of the recording. Sounded as good as most other musicians CDs. The more we listened to the songs, the more we liked them.

I called the sound engineer who had worked on my first instrumental CD to see if he could remix and master the tracks. Mastering is an important part of the CD creation process and it usually is best to let professionals do it. Unfortunately, I was working out of town and I just could not find any suitable time to meet with the sound engineer. I really wanted to see how the CD would sound like if mastered. Therefore, I decided to learn how to mix and master a CD. I did not expect that part to be so hard but it took me almost 2 months to learn the techniques required to produce a good quality audio cd. After many failed attempts, and making every possible mistake imaginable, I managed to create a master CD that sounds good on many devices.
A professional studio might do a bit better, but not enough to justify the investment at this point.

Luckily, that night before the dental surgery, I had recorded 12 songs without a single mistake. Out of these 12, I was able to master eleven, which is enough for a CD.

Q4: We are going to cheat this week and slip in a fifth question that you can both answer. What’s in the immediate future for both of you?

JS: My manuscript for the third book is nearing completion and will soon be ready for editing and publishing.

We've considered having a small show with an ensemble of our own original music, and once our books and CDs are complete, perhaps another book/cd launch will be planned. 

I also hope to design more of Gilbert's cd covers and inserts. Who knows - maybe our creative versatility will ultimately be the foundation for future careers, to help others, and at the same time to have fun!

GB: My next project is a CD of Acadian Songs.

Thank you both for sharing your thoughts. Links for “the partners” are listed below.

You can follow Judy's facebook writer page, which has samples of several songs, photo slideshows and her writing endeavours at:

Gilbert's music can be listened to and found at:
or on facebook in English or French musician pages at: http\\facebook@GilbertBabinmusician (English), http\\facebook@GilbertBabinmusicien (French)

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