A very enthusiastic and sold out audience enjoyed an evening celebrating Ottawa’s own Lynn Miles’ 25 year career as a singer/songwriter on Friday night. Her dedicated following and very strong connections to the local arts community were evident throughout the evening.
Alan Neal from CBC Radio One 91.5 FM hosted the evening (his day job is host of the program All In A Day). Neal had done a great deal of background research and did a masterful job of providing the backdrop to the story of Lynn’s career. While keeping Lynn as the focal point of the evening, Neal showcased a trip down memory lane. Lynn and the audience were treated to video and audio clips of people past and present who were or are part of her career. Lynn sang several songs, old and new, all to the audience’s delight. Lynn bantered with Neal and connected with the audience from start to finish.
Lynn made her first recording, on videocassette in 1987. At one point it was mentioned Lynn had written over 700 songs. In one audio clip from the early 1990’s, CBC’s Peter Gzowski asked Lynn if she was shy. She said she was and it took her a year to open her eyes in front of an audience and another year not to just look at the microphone once her eyes were open. There was an audio clip tribute from Murray McLauchlin, video clips of being interviewed by Alanis Morrisette and messages from producers and collaborators throughout the years. Lynn told a story of being busted for busking with Alanis Morrisette when they were in Santa Monica many years ago.
Lynn has won and been nominated for a number of awards over the years, including winning a Juno in 2003 and the 2005 Canadian Folk Award. Throughout the evening we heard several songs including Surrender Dorothy, Hockey Night in Canada and The People You Love. She played every request and she showed sheer enjoyment when guest artists such as Lynne Hanson performed I’m The Moon (Lynn Miles spontaneously joined in to sing harmony) and Sarah Slean performed Black Flowers.
Lynn was humble, down to earth and demonstrated a great sense of humour throughout the evening. We were treated to insights about her early career and to the influential roles played by a number of people like the owners of Rasputin’s Café. It was there Lynn and other singer/songwriters would perform and hang out till the wee hours. One of the owners, Helen, provided Lynn with cash to help make her make an album in the earliest years. She thanked the owner of The Ottawa Folklore Centre for hiring her when she needed cash and she thanked many others for their support over the years. In the end, it was the audience who showed their gratitude and respect to one very gifted singer and songwriter, Lynn Miles. I’d recommend that if you aren’t familiar with her work, then it’s time to log on to iTunes or head out to shop for a CD or, as Alan Neal did, look on eBay for a copy of that very first Lynn Miles cassette.