Richard Andrew Laviolette (August 22, 1982 – September 5, 2023) was a talented Canadian singer-songwriter known for his remarkable musical journey. Hailing from Guelph, Ontario, Laviolette left a lasting impact on the Canadian music scene, releasing music under various band names and captivating audiences with his unique sound.
Early Life and Education
Richard Laviolette had humble beginnings, growing up on a small hobby beef farm in Tara, Ontario. Music played a significant role in his upbringing, as he learned to play several instruments, including the mandolin and guitar, from his father. He became proficient in traditional folk and country mandolin styles. His family, including his parents Darrell and Marie, shared his musical passion, often coming together for family sing-alongs and jamborees. Though Laviolette didn’t have much exposure to non-mainstream music during his youth, these family gatherings helped foster his deep appreciation for music.
Initially, Laviolette pursued a degree in history at the University of Guelph with dreams of becoming a teacher. However, his love for music ultimately led him to drop out of university and dedicate himself fully to his musical aspirations.
Laviolette’s musical journey began to take shape during his university years. In 2003, while still a student at Guelph, he embarked on his debut album under the name Mary Carl, named after a person who, interestingly, wasn’t entirely thrilled with the band’s name. Laviolette and his friends recorded the album in a bedroom, incorporating a variety of instruments like guitar, cello, harmonica, piano, accordion, and floor tom. This album, titled “Mary Carl,” was released on April 1, 2005.
He continued to carve his path in the music industry, releasing his second album, “A Little Less Like a Rock, a Little More Like Home,” in 2006 through Burnt Oak Records. This album gained recognition, reaching spot 127 on the campus/community radio airplay charts in November 2006. Laviolette’s passion for music led to the creation of more albums, including “Aging Recycling Plant” in 2009 and “All of Your Raw Materials” in 2010.
Throughout his career, Laviolette was known for his collaborative spirit. He frequently worked with fellow artists, embarking on tours and projects that showcased his versatility. Notably, in late September 2007, Laviolette and label-mate Kit Wilson-Yang embarked on a seven-week tour of the United States and Canada.
One of his notable albums, “Taking the Long Way Home,” released in 2017, featured contributions from pianist Lisa Bozikovic and backing vocals by Jessy Bell Smith. This album was initially a project with Laviolette’s father, who had to step away to care for Laviolette’s ailing mother, who suffered from Huntington’s disease. “Taking the Long Way Home” was released by You’ve Changed Records and produced by Andy Magoffin at the House of Miracles in Cambridge, Ontario.
Laviolette’s talents graced the stages of various music festivals, including Pop Montreal and the Hillside Festival. His distinct voice, described as an “old soul,” could effortlessly shift from a delicate whisper to a powerful, guttural tone, leaving audiences mesmerized.
In the local music scene, Laviolette was considered a trailblazer, often mentioned in the same breath as other influential artists. His contributions to music and his captivating performances left an indelible mark on both the Canadian and local music scenes.
Richard Andrew Laviolette may have left this world in 2023, but his music and legacy continue to resonate with fans, proving that his timeless artistry will live on for generations to come.