Ann Vriend: Retro Soul Songstress
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 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 14,000 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 the girly timbre of Dolly Parton and the blues-filled prowess of Aretha Franklin-- and as “almost confronting in its candour” 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.
Ann is currently spending the summer of 2013 in the studio, working on her next album entitled "Songs For The Mean Time" - a groove-heavy retro soul album, produced by Toronto producer Tino Zolfo. However, she has taken some time to write with and for some other artists, and to play the Burlington Sound of Music Festival and the Ottawa Bluesfest. Ann will be touring in Europe this coming fall and in Australia and New Zealand in early 2014.
“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.”
"Ann Vriend is a brilliant songwriter, and equally gifted as a singer and piano player. Her way of writing accessible and yet highly unique and authentic songs, is, in my opinion, unparalleled by any new singer/songwriter emerging in N. America today."
-- multi hit songwriter Dan Hill
"Oh my, what a voice! Ann Vriend's debut appearance at the Nick also showcased her stellar piano, outstanding songwriting and laugh-filled introductions, earning an enthusiastic ovation, and a well-deserved encore from a room full of new fans."
-- Vic Bell, Artistic Director, Nickelodeon Music Club