House Blend | Episode 9B: Ann Marita
BOUT THE ARTIST
The story of singer-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, 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.
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 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 living 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 she after two years of music studies 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 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 was recorded in part in a friend’s studio in California, with the help of musicians like bassist Ric Fierabracci from Chick Corea’s Electric Band, then finished in Melbourne, Australia, where some of Australia’s top musicians; guitarists Brett Garsed and Stuart Fraser, keyboard player Chong Lim, and harmonica player Steve Williams, all from the John Farnham band, added their parts to the project.
About the theme of her first album, Ann-Marita says: “This record is about growing up, and having to do it a little faster than expected. It’s about heartbreak, survival and finding your place in the world. I don’t write about rodeos or pickup trucks, but when someone tells me that they were moved by one of my songs — even though they wouldn’t normally listen to country music, I know that I’ve hit the mark.”
Ann-Marita’s debut album has gained airplay in Australia, New Zealand, USA and a number of European countries, and propelled Ann-Marita past around 3,000 other artists to hit the # 20 spot on the Worldwide Mainstream Most Played Major & Indie Artists Chart by the end of 2004. Her first 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. Ann-Marita received rave album reviews, and became a Top 10 Finalist in the MusicOz Awards; Australia’s top independent music awards, in 2005. The album also helped secure her a spot among only four artists to be sponsored by Sonicbids to travel to Berlin to showcase at the 2006 Popkomm Festival.
2007 sees the release of Ann-Marita’s second album, titled “Intuition”. Tirelessly gigging, writing, and creating, Ann-Marita is carving out her niche in the music industry, evading categorization and preconceived notions with ease.
ABOUT THE HOST©2010 SCVTV
“House Blend” host, writer and co-producer Stephen K. Peeples is a Grammy-nominated record producer (“Monterey International Pop Festival,” 1992), award-winning radio writer-producer (“The Lost Lennon Tapes,” 1988-1990) and veteran record company executive (Capitol, Elektra/Asylum, Rhino). A Canyon Country resident since early 1988, Peeples wrote about the SCV music scene for The Signal newspaper in 2004-2006 and was Managing Editor of the My Santa Clarita community website in 2006-2007. He was The Signal’s Online Editor and social media manager from October 2007 to May 2011. In 2009 he was honored when The-Signal.com was named “Best Website” by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. A jazz and rock drummer since he was 12, Peeples was a member of the underground West L.A. garage band Peaking Duck from 1977-2008. In 2010, he co-founded the SCV-based jazz quartet RainTree.