Mike Desi and Jessie Roy perform on the stage of Lovefest 2022. Photo by Loni Taylor.

Jessie Roy was one of the most prolific live music performers on Cortes Island over the past six months. She delivered vocals and keys on five stages between July and December 2022, and she’s already got appearances lined up at the Gorge Harbour Marina for 2023.

CKTZ spoke with Roy about her history as a musician and the year ahead on the island.

Roy studied jazz for five years at Humber College in Toronto. She performed on a US Navy Base for three months in the Kingdom of Bahrain and then lived in Wyoming and New Mexico, before returning to Canada in 2014.

The vocalist moved to Cortes in 2020 after being reno-evicted from her home in Victoria, she said, and immediately started working at the Gorge Marina. But she didn’t perform locally: her musical background was unknown to the Cortes community for almost two years. It wasn’t until her manager at the Gorge Harbour Marina, overheard her speaking to a colleague that prompted the manager to ask her, “Do you sing?”

Roy made her Cortes debut at the Fireside Patio of the Gorge Marina twice in the summer of 2022, after her manager convinced her to fill the bookings. Word among the island’s musical community spread and many locals now support the musician’s initiative to play and perform.

One community member is lending Roy their keyboard long-term, and several local music legends, like Rick Bockner and Paul Wolda, have invited her to jam. The artist admits that she loves contributing to her community but reveals a reluctance to get on stage unless she is motivated by outside energy. Roy values the process of an early musical stage: original song-writing.

“Feels really good, feels really like you’re shedding, definitely shedding your wings or shedding your skin or shedding something. I’ll sit down on the keyboard and just start going,” Roy said.

Roy is heavily motivated by her surroundings, she said, explaining how several people have influenced her to perform for the community, telling her that she needs to sing.

“And I appreciate that. I really did…People that wanna hear it or need to hear yourself express yourself, and it feeds people, it heals…” she said.

“So I try to think of that sometimes: when people are like, ‘Hey, you wanna do some music, wanna jam?’ And I’m like, ‘I should.'”

Roy is spending the winter jamming with neighbors like Kyle Williams, and writing new music if the inspiration comes. Now that the secret is out about Roy’s musical experience and community-inspired performance nature, it’s likely the island will hear from her sooner than July.

“Being here has brought out the bloom, I’m flowering again!” Roy said.

To learn more about Jessie Roy’s performance journey, listen to the CKTZ News Update below:


This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative.