Ottawa's Festival of Ideas Since 1997

Ann Vriend

Ann Vriend

Ann Vriend: Where Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin Meet

“Ann Vriend's [newest] album-- her first as a producer-- defies narrow genres. Each of the 12 tracks manages the rare feat of sounding at once comfortably familiar and intriguingly original.... veer[ing] effortlessly between straight-ahead, quiet country, to soul-wrenching blues, to folk-inspired storytelling.... Don't miss her.”

--3.5 of 4 Stars, Toronto Star

“...a collection of polished, adult songs.... you wonder how no one thought to put notes together in that melody”

--3 of 4 Stars, Winnipeg Free Press

Ann Vriend (pronounced Vreend) was born in Vancouver, BC. When her parents discovered their 3-year-old could play nursery songs on a Fisher Price xylophone, they encouraged her musical development by enrolling her in violin lessons. At age nine, when Vriend sought to accompany herself as a songwriter, she took piano lessons from an elderly woman down the street who charged $5 per visit. In high school, in order to be able to do submit her home-made recordings for a school project, Vriend was coerced into performing 3 of her compositions at the school talent show. Accolades from her fellow students evolved into projects with older students in bands, interest from record labels, praise from critics, and loyal fans around the world.

Vriend has headlined at festivals as far away from her hometown of Edmonton as Berlin and Australia and sold over 13,000 albums off the stage, independently. “Easily one of Canada’s greatest unannounced singers.... Her strengths as a pianist and lyricist means Vriend is the complete package” (A n E Vibe Magazine).

First, the voice: “Soulful, inspiring, brave and bluesy” (Rip It Up, Adelaide) with a “vocal range from vulnerable delicacy to blasts of soulful power” (Halifax Chronicle) Vriend's vocal sound has been described as an enchanting cross between Dolly Parton and a young Aretha Franklin and as “almost confronting” by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Besides this, Vriend's songs possess a natural knack for melody, garnering her hits on both independent and commercial radio stations -- including Gold rotation for her tune “Feelin' Fine” -- and have charted on college stations as far away as Germany and the Netherlands. Vriend has been commissioned to write songs for organizations such as the Canadian Tourism Corporation and the Commonwealth Games, and her music has been featured in a U.S. DVD release of “Party of Five.”

As a balance between her intensely performed songs, “Vriend is fantastic in concert – a very, very, funny woman that tends to belt out her songs in between her most entertaining comedic intervals” (4 of 5 Stars, A n E Vibe Magazine). Her rapport with her audience can be heard on her live album, “Closer Encounters,” released in 2009.

Vriend's latest release, entitled “Love & Other Messes,” “has critics drooling over her stylistic and lyrical qualities. Impossible to categorize, Vriend’s unique style brings together elements of soul, pop, country, jazz, blues and gospel and so, as many critics agree, it sounds both familiar and strange at the same time” (The Weekend Telegram). Recorded in May 2010 with a stellar 7-piece band, including two-time 2010 East Coast Music Nominee Coco Love Alcorn and 2009 Emerging Artist of the Year Chloe Albert on background vocals, the album has a live and vibrant organic feel while maintaining a polished performance quality, described as “a retro look at old pop records of the ‘60s, with Vriend playing the country diva, the Amy Winehouse of the prairies. Sometimes she’s channeling Dolly Parton or Blossom Dearie doing early Loretta Lynn and Aretha Franklin” (Ottawa Sun).

With a stack of rave reviews now under her belt, and an increasing confidence as a writer and performer, Vriend is making fans in each town she plays. “Wherever Vriend takes her music next it will be in the right direction,” states The Daily Telegram. And Drum Media gently urges: “If she makes another visit soon, you'd do well to go along.” Stated more forcefully by Toronto Star: “Don't miss her.”

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