Toronto based singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell “bares her soul on stage” to Fredericton audiences as the opening act to The Once on Friday, Nov. 30.

The audience at the Wilmot United Church welcomed Megan Bonnell and her accompanying guitarist to the stage with enthusiastic applause. After offering the audience an excited smile, Bonnell began an intimate and emotional performance.

The simplicity of just the guitar or keyboard and her unique voice gave her performance a vulnerable tone. It was as if the pews of people were only witnessing one aspect of the performance, with the true experience lying exclusively between the artist and her music.

Bonnell shared acoustic tracks off her most recent album, Separate Rooms, such as “Can’t be Undone” and the titular song “Separate Rooms”. Her lyrics speak to personal experiences and personal pain.

These elements of openness and honesty is what initially drew Bonnell to music, and has continued to inspire her throughout her career.

“The artists I have always been drawn to are the female artists really being edgy and bold with what they are saying, who refuse to sand down the edges and make it more digestible. As I have gotten more confident I think I was inspired to be as forthcoming as possible,” Bonnell said.

In between songs, Bonnell reminisces about her father’s stories of going to university in Fredericton, saying that visiting the city felt like returning home. She appreciates being able to get involved with communities outside the bustling city of Toronto and experience the Canadian music industry as it presents itself around the country.

“There has been this real renaissance in the last couple years of intimate venues in smaller towns whether they are churches, schools, or theatres. There is so much soul in that,” Bonnell said.

She further described the tight-knit community around the music industry in Canada. “I think there is a real emphasis and appreciation for music here. We all do feel like a real part of it, and we all connect through it.”

Bonnell spoke of the connection she has felt with her audience through her music, saying that fans have come to her with stories of being inspired to push themselves or overcome personal struggles.

“There is such a reward in that. I got into music because of my desire to connect with people on a human level.”

This connection was in full display after her performance in Fredericton. Bonnell could be found waiting near the door of the church during the intermission that followed her performance, greeting and chatting with audience members.