AV (Ann Vriend) is known most for her virtuosic, soaringly powerful vocals, and not far behind that for her multi award-winning abilities as a songwriter — and she ain’t too bad at the piano, either. She has been delivering her unique brand of old-school, inner-city soul to audiences around Europe, Oceana, Asia, and North America throughout her under-the-radar but consistently award-winning, critically acclaimed career. A “musician’s musician” and equally compelling solo as with a full band AV has sold more than 20,000 albums off the stage, independently, and can somehow turn even the most difficult rooms to her attention, which she attributes from having cut her teeth playing bars — solo, and with exclusively original music— in small towns in Alberta, Canada.
Growing up in a household that was on the one hand counter-culture and hippie but on the other hand fundamentally religious and sheltering, AV has always written songs about confusion, searching, and questioning — of herself, and the culture around her. The outcome is what she half seriously, half jokingly calls “existentialist gospel,” drawing from emotionally intense and rhythmic gospel and soul styles of African American culture, as well as from her parents’ vinyl ‘70s folk/pop collection, from artists such as Paul Simon, Cat Stevens, and Leonard Cohen.
Often compared to her vocal hero, Aretha Franklin, AV’s most recent song, “Hurt People Hurt People”, which has been released only in Germany to date, peaked at #55 in the Main Pop Charts in Germany, reaching the top 10 on some stations, and reaching #1 on Bayern1, which has a listenership of approximately 3.3 million. Well-known and beloved radio host Werner Reinke from Germany’s HR1 station presented an hr-long live recording and interview with AV this past February and actually cried during AV’s performance.
Coming from a humble background on Edmonton’s east side, and for the past decade calling Edmonton’s troubled and somewhat notorious ghetto neighborhood of McCauley home, AV does not shy away from addressing serious social issues that face her and her community. This setting is the microcosm from which she writes, weaving the issues facing people in this scene into her own life struggles— and yet, specific as they both are, her songs appeal to her audience worldwide. She draws from the rich tradition of classic soul artists who have delivered stunning recordings that are both contagiously fun AND socially thought provoking, such as Curtis Mayfield, Ray Charles, Bill Withers, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin, and all the way up the line to Sharon Jones, Charles Barkley, Amy Winehouse, and Alicia Keys.