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Arden offers four one-of-a-kind artists

Concert brings together four phenomenal female voices

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Feb 19, 2014 06:00 am

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  • Chloe Albert
    Chloe Albert
    Supplied photo
  • Lori McKenna
    Lori McKenna
  • Mary Gauthier
    Mary Gauthier
  • Rose Cousins
    Rose Cousins

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Storytellers: Mary Gauthier, Lori McKenna, Rose Cousins & Chloe Albert
Saturday, Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.
Arden Theatre
5 St. Anne St.
Tickets: $35. Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at www.ticketmaster.ca

It’s hard to believe that it’s close to 15 years since Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair wound its way across the country.

It started as a small songwriters’ showcase geared to celebrating female musicians of the folk genre, and grew into an international festival overflowing with top-tier pop artists and sold-out crowds.

It was a festival that left a huge imprint on many music lovers, including Caitlin North, the Arden Theatre’s professional programming presenter. Now North has organized a one-of-a kind, one-night concert that brings together four top-notch female roots singer-songwriters.

This coming Saturday, Feb. 22, Nashville-based Mary Gauthier, Massachusetts resident Lori McKenna, Halifax-based Rose Cousins and Edmonton singer Chloe Albert come together to share their experiences.

Separately they have earned international praise. Together the foursome delivers a powerful perspective and an intuitive vulnerability that ranks them at the top.

While Gauthier, McKenna and Cousins have a stronger toehold in the industry, Albert has also received a healthy share of accolades.

A few weeks ago Albert’s latest effort – Dream Catcher – was nominated for a Juno in the category of Adult Contemporary Album of the Year. It is Albert’s first nomination and it’s in the same category as Celine’s Dion’s Loved Me Back to Life.

“I was blown away,” said Albert of the nomination, noting that independent artists are often fearful their CD will end up forgotten on a dusty pile. It didn’t happen this time.

Almost in the next breath she added, “I feel honoured to be in the same category as this woman who is a mega superstar. She has this incredible set of pipes and it’s so cool they would consider us in the same category.”

No stranger to accolades, Albert’s self-generated debut CD, the 2008 Dedicated State won an Emerging Artist of the Year Award at the Canadian Folk Music Awards.

And this year CKUA named the sophomore album Dream Catcher its No. 1 played album for 2013.

Born and raised in Edmonton, Albert is a graduate of MacEwan University’s music program. Together with Katie Perlman and Lesley Pelletier, from her MacEwan days, the trio formed the country band The Carolines.

“It’s been a total blast. It’s fun to play with girlfriends and I really enjoy singing three-part harmony.”

In addition, to The Carolines, Albert has honed her blues voice as part of the house band at Blue Chair Café.

“It’s mellow stuff. Everybody in the band sings campfire songs, old songs that are a mish-mash of folk, blues and jazz. Everything has a folk sound.”

Using a grant from Alberta Foundation for the Arts and Rawlco Radio, Albert recorded Dream Catcher at Sound Extractor with producer Stu Kirkwood.

Albert didn’t have a particular vision for the 12-track or decide to move in a specific direction. Instead she put her trust in Kirkwood to develop the vibe she needed.

“Singing and songwriting is easy,” Albert said. “Producing is a whole other art. It will probably be easier to articulate and envision what I want in the next album.”

For the moment she’s enjoying the congratulatory Juno phone calls and invitations to perform at acclaimed venues such as Salmon Arm’s Roots and Blues Festival.

Last summer at the 2013 Edmonton Folk Festival, she caught one of Lori McKenna’s concerts. McKenna, who received her big break on a Faith Hill album, is married to a plumber and shepherds five children to school in a minivan.

“She’s really down-to-earth. When I saw her sing, it was raw, beautiful music. She’s a great guitar player and she’s very charming.”

Also a longtime admirer of Mary Gauthier, Albert had the good fortune to see her perform at North Country Fair.

“She’s amazing. She’s an incredible songwriter. She’s a great craftsman and I also enjoyed her drummer,” Albert said.

Albert’s only connection to Rose Cousins is that The Carolines sing one of her songs – If You Were For Me.

“I only just discovered her music last year. She has this beautiful voice that sings devastatingly honest, sad songs.”

Albert is bringing some of her percussion instruments to the Saturday concert and the quartet will sing a special Pete Seeger tribute in honour of the American folk singer who passed way on Jan. 27.

“It’s a great opportunity to see four songwriters in one,” she said. “You get to know different sides of the stories behind the songs and a different side of artists you don’t normally see. It will be a dynamic show and we probably may never sing together again – even though it would be nice.”


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