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On The Brink Of Stardom
Vancouver Island's Allison Crowe Band is set to be the next big thing. The Allison Crowe Band plays the Crab Shack Saturday, March 16.
Kara-Leah Grant (Entertainment Editor), Whistler This Week: Year 7, Issue 219
March 14 - March 20, 2002

Allison Crowe. From the National Post to The Province and The Vancouver Courier to VTV, every major media outlet on the West Coast is touting Allison Crowe as The Next Big Thing. And because she's from Vancouver Island, she is the next Nelly Furtado, the next Diana Krall. Crowe has been compared to Janis Joplin, Carole King, Fiona Apple, Sarah McLachlan and Beth Orton but take a listen to her rich, haunting, ageless voice and it is clear that Allison Crowe sounds exactly like none other than... Allison Crowe. Comparing her to other singers is ignoring this 20-year-old's individuality. "I don't know who I would compare myself to," says Crowe from the studio where she is currently recording her debut album, tentatively called Midnight Syren. "I don't really know what I sound like, I just sound like me."

The classically trained Crowe began writing songs in her early teens because she 'just wanted to try it'. Eight years later she has just finished writing The Allison Crowe Band's debut album, with help from her band members Dave Baird and Kevin Clevette. "A lot of the time I will sit at the piano and write something out while I am playing to get an idea and work on it. Other times I'll have words that I've written already that I take to the piano and then work it out there," explains Crowe. "Then I take it to Dave and Kevin to see if they have anything to add to it."

Listening to those songs it's hard to believe Crowe is barely out of her teens. But chatting to her over the phone, it is clear she is still young. She is slightly nervous, but eager to talk about her work and she has yet to develop standard answers to the standard questions often asked by music journalists.

It was winning the 1998 Island Songbird Talent Competition that convinced Crowe she could make a living as a singing. "That was the turning point, in just helping to get known a little as well as giving me the confidence to do it," says Crowe with a little giggle. "I thought to myself 'Oh well, that was fun, maybe I could do that."

It's difficult to believe she ever doubted her voice was anything less than extraordinary. Her father says he remembers quite clearly when he realized his daughter's singing was on a different scale from other daughters. "It was at a Valentine's gig at my cousin's coffee house. She did a cover of a Counting Crows song, Raining in Baltimore. It wasn't the music but what she did with it. It still chokes me up," Del Crowe told the National Post last November.

Whether or not she blows away her audience, Crowe still occasionally deals with nerves and anxiety before performing. "Being on stage is fine," she says when asked how she feels about performing. Then she pauses and clarifies her statement. "Sometimes I just have to convince myself being on stage is fine, because I'll freak out and get, not really stage fright, because I am not on stage yet, but pre-stage fright. And then when I am on there I am fine."

Currently unsigned, Crowe is managed by Adrian du Plessis, whose claim to fame is blowing the lid off the Vancouver Stock Exchange Corruption a decade ago. Du Plessis had since returned to his first love, music, and from his home on Salt Spring Island began hearing of this young woman with an amazing voice. It took him a while to track her down, but after sitting in on a show in Chilliwack, he realized very quickly, this was not a fraud at all, but the real thing. Aside from her talent, fellow band members and surrounding family, du Plessis is probably the best thing Crowe has going for her - someone to protect her from the circling sharks of the music industry. Emerging talent surrounded by huge buzz often get signed to multi-record contracts that force them to release album after album with little creative control. (Prince was caught in the same dilemma in the early '90s.) Crowe is adamant about retaining full creative control of her work and has already turned down a few record contracts.

The upcoming album has not been picked up yet. "We're playing it by ear," says Crowe. The album is due out sometime before summer and Crowe is filming her first video to accompany the release. She says she's nervous about filming the video, but excited too.

Canadian-Music.com just named her Artist of the Week (March 9 2002) and rated her song "Crayons and Ink" a 10 out of 10, and MTV Canada has asked Crowe to appear on its show Select - so the accolades continue to roll in. It is clear that with her creativity, work ethic, incredible voice and classical training, Crowe is on the cusp of something great.

To listen for yourself, check out www.allisoncrowe.com.