Pure Indie Soul
Ann Vriend is best known for her soulful vocals as well as her abilities as a songwriter, both lyrically and melodically. And she’s got some serious piano skills, too. With a compelling combination of defiant resilience and heartfelt vulnerability, she delivers her unique brand of gritty, inner-city soul – and sometimes quite the funky old-school dance party. Often compared to her vocal heroine, Aretha Franklin, Ann Vriend also kills it live, having sold 18,000 albums off the stage independently. Critically acclaimed as a songwriter and performer, she is also known for assembling a live band that is the admiration of all “musician’s musicians.” She’s an award-winning performer AND songwriter, having won the “She’s The One” performance contest at the Ottawa Bluesfest, as well as the 2017 Cobalt Music Prize at the Maple Blues Awards for her gospel style ballad “All That I Can,” to name just a few accolades. Based on that success AV was presented the opportunity to open for Brit soul/pop artist Lisa Stansfield for 6 dates in Germany at the end of 2019– during which you could hear a pin drop during each of her performances, despite being a largely unknown artist to Stansfield’s fans. AV sold every piece of merchandise she had in the country, and a 21-date spring 2020 tour of Europe was solidly booked, with many shows sold out by early February, 2020. And a brand new album was to be released in conjunction with it.
But then: 2020.
So, rather than touring it occured to AV to bring her very own neighborhood the music they had, unwittingly or not, inspired. She performed a free concert every Sunday afternoon, for 26 weeks running, rain or shine, on her front porch– for any passersby, and from people from the rest of the city who heard about the concerts. What began as a humble, solo show with a very small speaker for amplification soon grew to a multi-act weekly mini festival, complete with a professional sound engineer, and cooperation and participation from the whole street and block, many of whom took great pride in hosting these weekly events on their turf. The concerts attracted people from literally all walks of life, local and suburban, and thus the new album was launched not half a world away, but on the very street where it was written and inspired.
It is now time to release the album– single by single, music video by music video–beyond the front porch and to the world– though anyone who already wants to hear the whole thing can purchase the songs in digital or physical form from the AV Store. The album, and its first single, is called “Everybody Matters.” Its video was filmed in McCauley, with many of the porch concert participants and neighborhood hosts as the actors appearing alongside AV. The album was produced by AV herself, with the album’s vocals and keys co-produced with esteemed Canadian/British producer Chris Birkett (Buffy Sainte Marie, Sinead O’Connor), and features virtuosic Hammond organ playing by former Edmontonian Doug Organ; alongside AV’s vocals and keyboard playing’; percussion and drums were played by Edmonton’s Fred Brenton (Kimberlite Records); and drum programming by Edmonton’s Brandon Unis (Velveteen Studios). The response from those who have already bought the album has been nothing short of stunning, with many saying it is by far AV’s best album to date.