TIMMINS -- It has been one of Celeste Levis' dream projects to release a Christmas album, and she said people need some cheer during the pandemic.

Levis jokes she has a small obsession with Holiday music, and so when the country went into lockdown, she decided it was time to record some original Christmas songs.

"I always talk about 'l'espoire,' believing in something and staying positive," said Levis. "It represents who I am ... and I think for Christmas, it works 100 times better, so I think it's something we all needed."

Titled 'Noel tout autour,' it includes a mix of light-hearted music and more pensive songs like 'Santa Please Don't Cry,' which presents a hopeful take on global issues like climate change.

"It's kind of a reflection on everything that's going on in the world," Levis said. "To say that if I believe in something, I think everything can be OK."

Being a music artist during COVID-19

As COVID-19 impacts all aspects of society, Levis said it's also affected her music career.

With in-person performances scarce, she's mainly been connecting with audiences via social media and livestreams.

Music commentator Eric Alper said the pandemic has devastated the Canadian music industry. Those that weren't forced to find another vocation due to financial difficulties have had to adapt to the new landscape, he said, but that it hasn't stopped people from making music and finding ways to reach listeners.

"The artists will find a way, they always do, whether it's going online and doing live shows or creating more songs and more music," Alper said.

"For a lot of artists this has been a really interesting creative spark in them, knowing that this is it, this is what we're going to have to work with and deal with."

Alper said it's been particularly interesting watching how artists have taken creative inspiration from the pandemic, using it to relate to their listeners and show that everyone is in this crisis together.

"We saw this with the Black Lives Matter movement, where people put those emotions into their own songs," Alper said. "Now we're seeing a lot of songs about being isolated, being alone, loneliness."

Bringing the holiday cheer

For Levis, she said there are certainly hints of those struggles in her latest album, though just like all of her life experiences, like growing up in the north, it all fuels her music.

"Everything that I've lived through, all the people that have affected my life, they're always hidden in my songs," said Levis.

Ultimately, she said, the goal of the album is mainly to take people's minds off of the gloom and get them into the holiday spirit.

'Noel tout autour' is set for digital and hard copy release on Nov. 27.