Ann Vriend: Where Dolly Parton and Aretha Franklin Meet
“With her soaring vocals, impressive song-writing ability, and instrumental prowess, Vriend is truly an all-in-one package." – Obscure Sound, NYC
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 various projects with older students in bands, and soon afterward into interest from major labels, praise from critics and the media, and loyal fans around the world.
Vriend's vulnerable yet exquisite voice is often the first thing that turns heads; it has been described as an enchanting cross between Dolly Parton and a young Aretha Franklin, while her story-like but often enigmatic lyrics reveal her lauded literary depth, influenced by writers such as Leonard Cohen and Paul Simon.
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” in her home town of Edmonton, Alberta-- and has charted on college stations as far away as Cologne, Germany. Her music has been featured in U.S. DVD release of “Party of Five”, and she was commissioned to write a song for the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia.
From composition to composition Vriend's music varies between “old school” soul, Americana, indie pop, and jazz influenced numbers, yet she maintains a consistency of sound in her immediately recognizable vocal and lyrical approach. Vriend’s quirkiness and self-taught piano stylings draw comparisons to Regina Spektor and Kate Bush, though she also has a country and soul vocabulary in the vein of Ray Charles and Lyle Lovett. In short, "When it comes to women with pianos, there are endless comparisons to make, but Vriend stands out from the crowd" (Drum Media, Australia).
Vriend is also known for her live performances, balanced perfectly between breathtaking, heartbreaking songs and charming, witty humor, and resulting in over 13,000 album sales to date as an independent artist, sold almost entirely from off the stage. It is common for people to cry during her performances (and laugh!). Vriend has headlined at festivals as far away from home as Germany and Australia, and is as comfortable performing in the humble setting of a house concert as she is on stage at established theatres and festivals.
November 2010 Vriend releases her next album entitled “Love & Other Messes”. A retro soul/Americana album, the work contains 12 powerful songs, many of which are already popular at Vriend's live shows. Recorded 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 top-notch sonic and performance quality. Even before its official release the self-produced album is already receiving immense praise from Vriend's peers and members of the Canadian music industry. November 2010 Vriend will tour the album in Germany, March/April 2011 in Australia, and will return to home to Canada to tour the album in May and June 2011.
Known increasingly as "an artist not content to follow" (CKUA Radio) Vriend's music has the ear of music lovers from all over the world. David Ritz, author of many music biographies (Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye) writes:
"Once every generation... a singer-songwriter emerges with the creative fire to set the music world ablaze. Ann Vriend has the fire."