Growing up in a household that encouraged critical thinking and challenging the status quo AV has always written songs about confusion, searching, and questioning — of herself, and the culture around her. The outcome is what she half seriously, half jokingly calls “existentialist gospel” : drawing musically from the emotionally intense and rhythmic gospel and soul styles of African American culture, as well as from her parents’ vinyl ‘70s folk/pop collection of artists like Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, and Leonard Cohen, whose often cryptic lyrics also questioned the society of their times.
Particularly during the past 7 or 8 years AV has delved into her influences from the rich tradition of classic soul artists who have delivered stunning recordings which are both contagiously fun AND socially thought provoking; such as Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, and, especially, Aretha Franklin– all the way up the line to Sharon Jones, Charles Barkley, Amy Winehouse, and Alicia Keys.
It is with a huge, respectful nod to the influences of such greats that AV addresses the social issues that face her and her community of her somewhat notorious inner-city Edmonton neighborhood of McCauley, in which there is a high concentration of people suffering from extreme forms of trauma and abuse; often resulting in addiction, mental illness, stigmatization, neglect, and further abuse. Delving into the historical, cultural, and colonial reasons behind a great deal of this suffering has led AV down a path of self-discovery, as much as it has been a discovery of her neighbors and their own biographical stories.
And yet, specific as the songs are to AV and her tiny neighborhood the songs appeal to her audience, worldwide. In addition to winning the national Cobalt Music Prize for her single “It’s Happening” in 2019, and in 2017, for her single “All That I Can,” which also won the 2018 R&B/soul Recording of the Year at the Edmonton Music Awards AV’s last single, “Hurt People Hurt People”, peaked at #55 in 2019 in the Main Pop Charts in Germany, reaching the top 10 on some stations, and reaching #1 on Bayern1, which has a listenership of approximately 3.3 million. Well-known and beloved radio host Werner Reinke from Germany’s HR1 station presented an hr-long live recording and interview with AV this past February and actually cried during AV’s performance, immediately calling a friend to book her at one of Germany’s most esteemed blues festivals.
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