Halladay Quist’s Musical Odyssey

From a family of well-known musicians, Halladay Quist is making a name for herself as one of the Flathead Valley’s most distinct voices

By Dillon Tabish
Halladay Quist, pictured at Whitefish City Beach on July 30, 2015. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Last week, around the same time her 1997 Honda CRV hit 400,000 miles, Halladay Quist carved out an afternoon in her hectic schedule to play music with a group of teens in Whitefish. It was for a camp through the Share Your Voice Foundation, and the theme was, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”

Sitting in a circle, Quist encouraged the boys and girls to tap into their artistic sides and find their own individual dreams and goals.

“They’re so creative. My favorite song so was far was ‘Surf’s Up Cowabunga,’” she said, laughing.

The camp’s motto is a fitting one for Quist’s life these days.

The 30-year-old musician has embarked on a most ambitious journey, chasing her dreams fully and following her passion as far as it takes her. This includes playing three to four live shows a week across western Montana, performing in Alpine Theatre Project’s month-long musical production of “Chicago,” recording multiple musical projects and releasing her first solo album, which took a year to produce in Nashville.

“This week I’ve been looking around and feeling like all my dreams that I dreamed up within the last two years are happening,” she said. “It’s surreal in that way.”

She was born for this. The daughter of famous Montana musician Rob Quist, Halladay grew up beneath the Swan Mountains in Creston. She traveled with her father and his multiple musical acts as a child and began playing piano at age 6. Harmonies became the background music of her childhood and she began developing an innate passion for music, all music. After graduating from Flathead High School in 2003, she attended the University of Montana, where she tuned in to various genres.

Over the years, she has played in a metal band in Seattle, traveled with a classical group singing Mozart, opened for the Doobie Brothers, joined indie rock groups and jazz groups. She founded a band with her father and brother called “House of Quist,” which toured extensively and recorded two albums.

But then two years ago, the family band split up and Halladay questioned her future as a musician.

“There was a shaky time after my last band broke up,” she said. “We had a really tough time and we were really rubbing pennies together and I was wondering, ‘Is this what I want to do? Is this the right path for me?’”

Instead of letting discouragement sour her passion, Halladay used the opportunity to rediscover what she loved about music.

“You have those dreams when you’re younger about how it should be and you have dreams of grandeur and making it big,” she said. “And what I soon realized is that that’s not necessarily what I wanted or needed, to make it big or be in the spotlight. I just really enjoyed spending time with my instruments and songwriting.”

Quist forged her own path as a solo artist, playing standup bass and tapping into her creativity. She found her voice — uniquely sultry — and her confidence. She set big dreams, dreams so big they were intimidating.

A year ago she decided to record her first solo album, which was released in May. Her plan is to record four more albums in four years. She joined ATP’s musical production of Chicago, checking another goal off her list. She is also regularly working with kids across the valley and helping them find their voice. Outside of the valley, she and her father have started working with members of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to record stories passed down by tribal elders to preserve them as songs. This fall she will attend the Crown of the Continent Guitar Workshop and Festival, where she still study with world-class musicians and grow as an artist.

Her calendar is filled with something each day, including upcoming performances at Tupelo Grille in Whitefish on Aug. 12 and Aug. 26, Stillwater Fish House on Aug. 27 and Riverbend Stage in Bigfork on Aug. 30.

Her Honda CRV, which her father passed down to her, is trying to keep up and is packed to the brim with instruments and sound gear she travels with across the state, eagerly chasing her passion.

“I’ll rest in October,” she says.

To purchase Halladay Quist’s album, visit halladayquist.com.

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