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Friday, 09 September 2011 08:46

Vriend will be at the songwriter's group

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By Jessi Gowan — This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Local songwriters have a unique opportunity to participate in a songwriting workshop with one of Canada’s most talented writers and performers, Ann Vriend, at the Lyric Theatre in Swift Current on Sunday, Sept. 18.


Born in Vancouver, B.C., Vriend’s passion for music started at a young age. When she was only three years old, her parents heard her playing nursery songs on a Fisher Price xylophone and immediately enrolled her in violin lessons.

By the age of nine, Vriend was writing songs and taking piano lessons, and in high school, she performed three original compositions at a talent show.

From there, Vriend started working with other students in bands and garnering accolades from the press, interest from record labels, and loyal fans all over the world.

“It’s a big rush for me, writing or performing at home,” Vriend said. “The feeling I get is the same one as I get on the stage, but then I get to share it with the people in front of me. You get energy back from the crowd, and it’s so exhilarating.”

Vriend’s unique vocals have been likened to the clear, vulnerable Nashville sound of Dolly Parton, the playfulness of Cyndi Lauper, and the raw power of Etta James and Aretha Franklin. She is well known for her literary writing style, which demonstrates 1970’s folk influences such as Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, and Leonard Cohen.

Songwriters in Swift Current will be able to understand these comparisons more in depth at Vriend’s upcoming workshop.

“I love songwriting in the first place, so it’s fun to do that in any context,” explained Vriend. “Workshops are really exciting, getting ideas and creativity from other people.”

She noted  songwriting can often be a solitary experience. Participating in a workshop allows songwriters to take part in a group effort, where everyone is engaged in the process. For Vriend, it’s an opportunity to show people that they really can write songs.

“People think you have to be in the right mood, and suddenly a song comes out of an aura or something,” she said. “Obviously, tons of ideas hit you, and if you can record them or write them down then great, but it’s not always like that.”

Vriend has offered workshops all over the world, working with students and songwriters both one-on-one and in group settings.

For the workshop in Swift Current, time will be limited and Vriend will not be able to provide individual attention. Instead, she aims to introduce participants to all of the important elements of songwriting.

“It’s like a crash course,” she said. “We’ll talk about song, lyrics, form, structure, and how everything works together. My goal is to give people enough of an overview to get started, so they can take what they learned here and apply it on their own.”

Participants do not have to even be musicians to enjoy the workshop. Vriend frequently works with writers as well, and people who don’t know how to play an instrument.

The workshop is open to anyone who has an interest in learning how to write songs.
During Vriend’s last cross-Canada tour, a performance was scheduled at the Lyric Theatre, but due to the show falling on election night, the turn-out was less than expected. Vriend will perform at the Lyric following the workshop, and is looking forward to having another opportunity to play at the venue.
“We are doing a bit of a re-do,” Vriend explained. “The venue was so great, and I really had fun with the people who were there. I am definitely looking forward to going back.”
The workshop will take place at the Lyric on Sept. 18 from 3-6 p.m., and costs $20 to participate. The cost includes the workshop, pizza and wings, and the concert following the workshop.
Vriend will be perform at the theatre that evening, from 7:30-9 p.m. Tickets for the performance are $15 and available at Pharmasave.

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