The story of performing songwriter Ann-Marita's life unfolds over four countries on three different continents. Growing up on a farm in the Norwegian mountains, she was as country as country gets. But with a great love of music and the desire to create some herself, and without any role models closer than the stars of her parents' record collection: Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Lynn Anderson, and of course Kenny, she had to use her imagination. She taught herself to play air piano on a peculiarly shaped rock on her family's property before she eventually graduated onto an antique church organ with pump pedals-the only musical instrument she had access to.
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By the time Ann-Marita was a teenager, she was writing songs and performing wherever she could. She was influenced by other musical styles like rock and the blues, which would color the sound that eventually was to become so uniquely her; the sound that has been referred to as "Ann-Marita Country."
Ann-Marita's slow trip around the world started with many years of life in a small mining community north of The Arctic Circle. Then, at fifteen, she spent a year living in Iowa, USA, as a foreign exchange student. This was followed by Gothenburg, Sweden, where she landed a two-year contract as the lead vocalist in an international show band performing on cruise ships in Northern Europe. Having completed her contract, she headed for Hollywood, California, where after two years of music studies she received the "Most Outstanding Vocal Student" award from the acclaimed Musicians Institute.
Things were looking very bright as Ann-Marita signed a two-album record deal with a Los Angeles-based production company. But after a year of day-and-night recording sessions and many lessons learned, Ann-Marita found that the contract had been a scam and her "production team" had mysteriously disappeared off the face of the planet. It was time to try something different.
Ann-Marita arrived in Australia in 2003, ready for a new beginning. Through the obstacles and turmoil she had written the songs for her self-titled debut album, which had been recorded in part in California with the help of musicians like bassist Ric Fierabracci from Chick Corea's Elektric Band. The album was then finished in Melbourne, Australia, where some of Australia's top musicians form John Farnham Band added their parts to the project, including guitarists Brett Garsed and Stuart Fraser, keyboard player Chong Lim, and harmonica player Steve Williams.
Since the album's independent release in June 2004, it has gained airplay in Australia, New Zealand, USA ,and a number of European countries. The album has propelled Ann-Marita past nearly 3,000 other artists to hit the # 35 spot on the Worldwide Mainstream Most Played Major & Indie Artists Chart by the end of 2004. Her single, "Face In The Crowd," released through Comstock Records, hit # 4 on the European Country Music Association airplay charts in Scandinavia, the U.K., and Austria that same month.
Critics are raving about this young Norwegian/Swedish/American/Australian singer/songwriter. Star Newspapers in Chicago calls Ann-Marita's debut album "Sa Down Under Gem," and Australia's Country Update Magazine says: "This is a very worthy introduction to an artist who obviously knows where she wants to go and has plenty of confidence in her ability to get there."
Genre: Alt-Country, Country Rock
Label: Self released
Download: "Face In the Crowd"
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Hi Ann- Marita. I hear you released a new single off your debut album, Ann Marita. Can you tell us about that?
Ann-Marita Yes, just last year, I released my debut album, simply titled Ann-Marita, and my current single is called "Face In The Crowd." It was just released to radio here in Australia, and I'm so excited about the response it's been getting so far!
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Are you going to be performing and/or doing a tour at all?
Ann-Marita I'm planning a tour in the not-so-distant future. I'll keep you posted on that as soon as I can give some specifics. But right at the moment, I've got the opportunity to go back into the studio to do some more recording, so I'm making sure to take advantage of that.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] What is your website information?
Ann-Marita My official site is www.annmarita.com - you can read about the latest happenings in my career, background information, check out some photos, and listen to my music. You can also sign up for my newsletter for regular updates.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And where can people purchase your CD?
Ann-Marita You can always order my CD, Ann Marita, through my official website www.annmarita.com. It's also available from www.cdbaby.com and several other sites, and you can also download it for less than $ 9.00 from iTunes and other legal download sites.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Who are some of your favorite artists and/or influences?
Ann-Marita My taste in music is very eclectic, from traditional country artists like Dolly Parton and Johnny Cash to contemporary country artists like Trisha Yearwood, Dixie Chicks and Allison Moorer. Rockers like Bonnie Raitt, The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Shawn Colvin have also had a huge influence on me, as well as blues and R&B artists like Etta James and Aretha Franklin. My own style of music is not traditional country by any means; it's about as mixed up as my background is, having lived in four countries on three continents.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Do you have any other hobbies aside from music?
Ann-Marita Well, music takes up most of my time, actually, but whenever I have some free time, I love to just relax and read a book. No, I'm not into mountain climbing or base jumping or any of those things; the ups and downs of the music business create enough excitement for me!
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Yes, I know what you mean. Did you write or co-write any of the songs on your current CD?
Ann-Marita I wrote all of the songs for my current CD, and that will probably be the case for the next album, as well. Songwriting is something that I put a lot of time and energy into, and I love to be able to express myself through my songs. But this doesn't mean I won't record other people's songs in the future.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] And what do you like to sing about?
Ann-Marita Anyone who knows my music will know that there's a bit of a feminist in me. I love songs about strong women, who go through hard times, but come out on the other side with their head held high and a positive attitude. Triumph, survival, following your heart - even when everyone around you seems to think you're crazy! That's the kind of stuff I can really relate to.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] What are one or two of your favorite songs on the CD, and what inspired those songs?
Ann-Marita Each song is a favorite in some way or another, but if I have to pick one, it would have to be "Face In The Crowd." I was sitting in a club one night, watching a live band, when all of a sudden I noticed someone sitting over by the bar, someone who looked so much like someone I used to know, it startled me. I spent the next forty-five minutes trying to figure out whether or not it really was that person, - turned out it wasn't - but in the meantime, I had scribbled out the words to the song on a paper napkin in front of me. I sat down at the piano the minute I got home, and finished the song that night.
Another song that I'm very proud of is called "Alive and Kickin." It's a song for all the girls out there who feel that they've wasted too much time on the wrong guy, and are ready to get back to their lives! This song rocks - much thanks to the amazing band I was so fortunate to have backing me on this record.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] What is the best advice someone ever gave you that you remember?
Ann-Marita Listen to your gut feeling. If something doesn't feel right, walk away from it - it will save you every time.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] That sounds like good advice. Anything else you wanted to add that we didn't cover today?
Ann-Marita I'd like to send out a big thank you to all the music lovers out there who are currently supporting us Indie artists! Competing for airtime and media exposure alongside major label artists is not an easy task. And we could never do anything or get anywhere without the people out there who look beyond the small number of high-profile artists who get the most of the available airtime to hear some different stuff. Thank you, all.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Thanks Ann-Marita. Any upcoming projects and/or future plans?
Ann-Marita As I briefly mentioned before, I'm working on another album at the moment. I've been writing a lot of new material, and we're in pre-production right now. I'm hoping the new record will be out within the next few months! Other than that, I'm just gonna keep doing what I'm doing. A promotional trip to the U.S. is in the works, and I will keep you all posted on that.
[Cindy Beth Gordon] Well that sounds great. We wish the best of luck with your current CD and the new single, "Face in A Crowd!"
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