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Emily Fennell with Broken Host
Tue, Sep 29
Old Firehall - Lethbridge


 Start: 9 p.m.

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“Emily has one of those voices that is immediately captivating.  Beyond her obvious technical gifts, she pulls you into the core of music with a soul and intellect of the highest order.  Songs are lucky to be sung by her.”

-Chris Brown (Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Chris Brown & Kate Fenner)

Born and raised in Prince Edward County, Ontario, Emily Fennell has emerged as one of the most acclaimed and most original singer-songwriters on the Canadian independent music scene.  “I decided to become a professional musician when I was ten,” she explains, “and from the beginning, everybody said, ‘it’s a nice idea for a hobby, but you need something to back on.’  But I had it set in my head that I wanted to do music full-time.  I made that decision over eighteen years ago, and I have never wavered.”  Fennell spent much of her adolescence travelling throughout Ontario, participating in singing competitions and music festivals.  By age seventeen, she was regularly playing the bar circuit between Toronto and Ottawa.  In 2000, she won both the CNE and Canadian Open country-singing championships.

A turning point in her career came in 2004, when she assembled the Emily Fennell Band and began a five-year run at the Merchant MacLiam in Kingston, Ontario.  The band’s high-energy Friday night gigs, showcasing both original songs and covers, won a devoted following among lovers of the classic rock’n’roll sound.  They won the 2005 X-treme Bandslam contest sponsored by K-ROCK (a popular Kingston radio station).  Two years later, Fennell wrote and recorded for the CBC’s “Search for Hockeyville” that received national coverage.  She was soon tapped to sing various national anthems at the finals of Barclay’s Churchill Cup rugby tournament.  As her reputation grew, she found herself serving as the opening act for artists such as Sarah Harmer, Tom Wilson, Sass Jordan, Steppenwolf, the Wilkinsons, Jim Cuddy, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Jann Arden.

It was during the early days of the Emily Fennell Band that she first began to flourish as a songwriter.  In her songs, Fennell uses direct, colloquial language to tell tales of struggle and perseverance in a fallen world, setting those tales to infectious melodies that wouldn’t be out of place on a mid-60s pop-rock record.  One reviewer has observed, “Fennell’s meditations on the wickedness of the world never fail to throw into relief the saving graces, which include the self-knowledge that comes with survival, as well as the capacity for music to create and reinforce meaningful human connections.  She expresses gratitude and hope–sometimes, it seems, despite herself.  And it’s this internal tension that ultimately makes the best of her songs so engaging.”

The Emily Fennell Band has independently released three albums: Green (2004), Live at the Merchant Tap House (2008), and Red (2009).  2009 also saw Fennell, under the alter ego of ‘Sugarplum,’ complete Miss Twisted, a collection of alt-country tunes produced by the legendary Luther Wright.  Columbia House recently signed on as the online distributor of both of her latest releases.   As Fennell develops the material for her next album, she and her mates continue to perform in and around Southeastern Ontario at bars and festivals, with a national tour scheduled for Fall 2009.  Having played nearly 250 shows in 2008 alone, she thrives on the connection between artist and audience that is realized in the live concert setting.

To be sure, making a living as a musician is no easy task.  Emily Fennell has, over the course of her career, weathered many storms, and she remains undeterred.  “Being independent is very important to me,” she says, “I do all my own management, all my own promotion. I do the bookings and organize the photo-shoots.  When it isn’t a bar gig, I print the tickets and design and put up the posters.  I rent the halls and clean them up afterward.  I believe I’m one of only a few girls in this region who does music full-time, and I plan to keep on doing it.”

Jenn Pellerin —

 Jenn is a local singer/songwriter who fronts  a new band called Broken Host


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