THE SONGBIRD

 

Ever wonder what it would have been like to listen to a gifted singer/songwriter from Saskatchewan in a small, intimate hall before she became Joni Mitchell?

Don't fret the missed opportunity.

There's no need to turn back the clock.

 

ALLISON CROWE

Check out Allison Crowe Sept. 7 at the Waterloo Community Arts Centre in her Waterloo Region debut.

Born in Nanaimo, B.C. 25 years ago, Crowe started playing music at a young age -- five or six to be precise.

Save for a broken arm, and then a broken leg, she never stopped playing music.

And she never doubted she would someday earn her living from music.

"It was my goal from the very beginning," Crowe says from her home in Corner Brook.

She moved to Newfoundland a year ago after finding love.

"I followed my heart from one coast to another," she says with a laugh, something she does often and with infectious gusto.

Like many singer/songwriters, Crowe got her start performing on open stages in her hometown. Then it was the clubs and bars of Vancouver, with bands and solo.

Her decision to pursue a music career was confirmed when she heard an early demo, On the Air, on CBC radio.

She made her first cross-country tour in 2002, "in a motorhome with eight other people."

She toured Europe for the first time in 2005, which was also the year she visited Newfoundland for the first time.

Since 2003 Crowe has released six albums on her own label. This Little Bird is her latest.

Like all her albums, This Little Bird is a mix of originals and covers, spanning folk, pop, gospel and jazz.

As a performer Crowe poses a quadruple threat.

She started writing poems and stories as a youngster and, by her mid-teens, she was writing songs worthy of performance.

"I write from an emotional place," she says. "Getting the words right and hitting the right keys aren't enough."

She's also a wonderful interpreter, whether it's Mitchell's a Case of You or River or Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

Her live-off-the-floor video of Hallelujah recently passed 400,00 views on YouTube and made the Top 10 on Last.fm with its 15 million listeners in 232 countries.

And, to think, she made the video for a pultry $200.

"I enjoy communicating to others what I feel about songs that are meaningful to me."

She's a gifted pianist who also plays guitar. Like Fiona Apple and Tori Amo, two influences, Crowe views the piano as "more than background accompaniment."

"It's at the heart of what I do."

Finally, she has a voice that can stop you in your tracks. It's a soulful soprano of wide range that penetrates the emotional depths.

Crowe has made the rounds of southwestern Ontario before, but this her first time in Kitchener or Waterloo.

To mark the occasion, she is donating part of the concert proceeds to The Kidney Foundation of Canada, which is hosting events at the Waterloo Community Arts Centre in advance of the concert.

Crowe was one of the celebrities to create a painting for the foundation's A Brush of Hope campaign.

"I'm in a position to give something back and kidney research is important."

Information is available online at www.kidney.on.ca/HUHO_special_events_brushofhope

rreid@therecord.com

LIVE ALLISON CROWE WATERLOO COMMUNITY ARTS CENTRE 8 P.M. SEPT. 7 $18 ADVANCE, $12 STUDENTS/SENIORS) AT WCAC BOX OFFICE (519-886-4577), TWELFTH NIGHT MUSIC SHOPPE AND ENCORE RECORDS