|Jenn Grant is not only a singer, songwriter and musician, but she paints as well.|
And you can add Jenn Grant to a list that includes originals such as Stompin' Tom Connors, Gene McClellan, Ashley MacIsaac, the Rankins, Sloan, The Trews and Two Hours Traffic.
She'll perform at the Kelowna Community Theatre next week, opening for Torontonian Ron Sexsmith, where she'll showcase songs from her last album - along with plenty of new material.
The P.E.I.-born Grant has lived in Halifax since the age of 10 and, like many musicians from the Maritimes, has been able to incubate her own sound and style removed from the bigger centres of Canada. In fact, she and her husband, fellow musician and producer Daniel Ledwell, recently moved from the city to a small town not far from Halifax to get further away from it all.
"Just being close to the water and the woods is really good for writing," she said. "The East Coast is a really strong community of friends and we really draw on the support of that â€¦ a lot of friends were on the last record."
Produced by Ledwell, as was her previous release, Honeymoon Punch, Grant's approach to writing the material on The Beautiful Wild, was different from previous efforts. That's something she attributed to another artistic collaboration, perhaps surprisingly, one with alternative hip-hop artist and CBC radio host Buck 65, AKA Rich Terfry.
In 2010-11, Grant and Terfry wrote several songs together that appeared on his 20 Odd Years EP, along with a cover of Leonard Cohen's Who By Fire.
"I wanted to approach it differently, to try to stretch my creative bandwidth a bit more and come up with some new stuff," she said. "I basically used my voice more as a starting point and I tuned my guitar down low and came up with different melodies in different ways.
"I also wrote it really fast â€¦ in 10 days, and recorded it right away. We'd write a song every day."
The Beautiful Wild shows Grant at her best, creating an atmospheric feel and vibe throughout, showcasing her ethereal voice in adventurous arrangements.
Grant was recently on the road with a full band, but she'll be in Kelowna next Wednesday with just her husband joining her on guitar and "maybe keyboards."
Her artistic relationship with troubadour Sexsmith goes back to the days when he, along with others such as fellow Maritimer Matt Mays, Jill Barber and The Heavy Blinkers, added to Grant's debut album, Orchestra for the Moon, released in 2007.
"I'm a huge fan of his and I like him a lot," she said. "And I'm really looking forward to going to some new place we've never been to in Canada - like Kamloops and Kelowna."
She enjoys performing with her husband.
"It'll be an intimate performance," said Grant. "It's great playing live with him and it's a lot of fun."
The song The Fighter off The Beautiful Wild, will almost certainly be in her set here. It stands out as a particularly strong song and has received extensive airplay on CBC radio and other outlets.B
But the video for it adds a whole other poignant element. Featured on her website, Jenngrant.com, the video is built around old eight-mm film of Grant's late mother, Heather Elizabeth Grant, who was "Queen Azalea" in Norfolk, Va. back in 1973.
Although her mother passed away last year from cancer, Grant's physical resemblance to her mother in her youth is haunting, and made all the more so by the content of the song itself and Grant's melancholy vocals.
"I knew she would have loved that idea," she said. "It's a tribute."
Grant said she'll also be playing new material slated for her next album, which she hopes to record in November in the studio she and her husband built.
While she may not receive quite the amount of international press multiple Juno-winner Sexsmith gets, Grant has proved herself an equally unique and adept songwriter in her own way.
She's also a talented visual artist and graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, where she majored in painting. She credits that creative outlet as an influence on her music, and vice-versa.
"I find that when I'm making art and making music, they kind of strengthen each other," she said.
Who: Jenn Grant in concert with headliner Ron Sexsmith
Where: The Kelowna Community Theatre, 1375 Water St., Kelowna
When: Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $26.25, plus fees and taxes. Available online at selectyourtickets.com, in person at the Prospera Place box office, or by calling 250-762-5050.
More info: Jenngrant.com and ronsexsmith.com.