N1M © 2003—2021
About Anna Gutmanis
Anna Gutmanis is an award-winning Canadian songwriter, singer and keyboardist who writes and records across musical genres. Her 2014 single release “Lately It’s Cold” won a Global Music Award. Several songs from Anna's critically-acclaimed album "Glimmer In The Dark" appeared on 3 different Australian Indie Radio Charts (Urban, World, and Easy Listening) and and on the Roots Music Report 2014 Top ... read more
1 month ago
And so this is December 2020. This morning, as I was thinking about songs that acknowledge the struggles of the times while also providing inspiration, I thought of Gladys Knight and The Pips' brilliant cover of "I've Got To Use My Imagination", a tune written by Goffin and Goldberg. Knight's single was originally released 47 years ago during a time of economic collapses, ongoing wars, and continued collective grief following the murders of prominent civil rights leaders. The song is basically a giant self-help pep talk to a person suffering deeply because of a bad situation. Rather than give in to ongoing despair, the person thinks of good reasons to go on. The brilliance of the vocal arrangement has The Pips singing that Gladys is strong and must keep on going, to which Gladys replies, "Yes I am". It's like a call-and-response between Gladys' deep inner strength and her present suffering self, and we know that strength will prevail.
This song can teach us a lot as we navigate these uncertain and fraught times. I've always believed that most folks have deep, untapped reserves of strength that remain secret until they are needed. A lot of us now need to draw on those reserves to get through the pandemic winter and the painful ongoing struggles against societal injustices. With Hannukah happening now and Christmas and Kwanzaa on the way, many folks find themselves missing the comforts of get-togethers with family and friends. Yet this year we must express our love for others by NOT seeing them in person. In 2020, nothing says " I love you" like a Zoom call. Yes, I will miss seeing the loved ones I usually spend holiday time with, but we are all making the best of a bad situation and doing our best to keep each other safe. May you all use your imaginations and find creative ways to celebrate the season!!
2 months ago
Wow!! Last week you rewarded me with Number One songs on two National Charts in Canada, for Rockabilly ("If You Want A Lover") and Spiritual ("People [Got To Get It Together]"). This week, you have given my songs Top Ten spots on several of my beloved home country's national charts: Blues, Dance, Pop, R & B, Reggae, and once again, Rockabilly and Spiritual! What can I say except THANK YOU - your support sure means a lot! Like one of my main singer/songwriter influences, Billy Joel, I write songs as they come to me, and genre really doesn't matter. I've always listened to music of all genres, and that habit is reflected in what I write and record.
This may sound like a stretch, but bear with me. I've also always thought that humans of all races and ethnic backgrounds are beautiful, and the diversity of friends, family members, and acquaintances in my life reflects that opinion. I wonder if the way I interact with music and the way I interact with people are related? I suspect so. Although I grew up in what was then an overwhelmingly white town, Stevie Wonder, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and other artists I've loved since Day One were always as close as my radio. Their music was about the love they felt as humans and the specific struggles they experienced as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People Of Colour). I absorbed their music and lyrics like a sponge and knew from a very young age that I was on the side of love and justice. The way I see it, my love of all kinds of music led to my love for all kinds of people. I left my hometown at the age of 18, in large part because I wanted to meet and befriend lots of people who didn't look like me, and not many of them could be found in my small town. I haven't looked back since then, either musically or on a personal level!
If these times are teaching us anything, it is that our human-made problems are global, and the solutions must also be global. Maybe if we hear each other's voices through music from the time we are born, we will want to hear those same voices in workplaces, political debates, and in other settings that affect our everyday lives. It's worth a try! Stay safe and well, and keep loving a wide variety of music!
3 months ago
l write this on the morning after the music community has lost two of our giants, Helen Reddy and Mac Davis. l grew up listening to both on the radio, and the first album l ever bought with the allowance money l'd saved up was Helen Reddy's "Long Hard Climb". As a young girl growing up in an old school patriarchal Eastern European home, l had been a big fan of Reddy's previous monster hit "l Am Woman". l can remember how good it felt to spin her new album time and time again, knowing it belonged to me. This morning l retrieve the album from my record shelf and take a look at the songs and songwriter credits listed on the back cover, and l see a clear line from my childhood past to my present older adult musical reality. "Long Hard Climb" has been the story of my musical life to date. lnspired by another musical feminist icon, Laura Nyro, l began to write my own songs as a young teenager, five years after the release of the Reddy album. But it is only in recent years that my music has been able to reach a truly international audience. l can now savour the lyrics in the title song, "Hasn't it been a long hard climb / Everything taking its own sweet time".
And the song that follows that track is Buffy Sainte Marie's "Until lt's Time For You To Go". Buffy and her music have become a MAJOR source of inspiration to me over the past five years. From the very start of my music career, people likened my music and voice to Buffy's, which l took as the major compliment it is. Although l had always admired Buffy's chops as a singer/songwriter, l didn't become an all-out fan of hers until she released the album "Power ln The Blood". That album KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF!! For me, it has everything that a great album should have: brilliant songs about a variety of themes; powerful arrangements and production; deeply passionate singing; and so much more. Most folks don't make albums like that anymore, albums that take the listener on an endlessly interesting aural, intellectual, and spiritual journey. l've had the huge privilege of twice meeting Buffy after a concert, and both times l could literally feel her positive energy lifting me up where l belong (yes, that is a tip of my hat to Buffy's Oscar-winning song from 1982)! And this week, an immensely talented group of musicians and singers will record one of my songs on the same console that Buffy used to record key tracks on "Power". The circle is complete!!
To complete the circle of my e-letter to you, l return to Mac Davis. His gorgeous signature song was one that spoke of the power of music to spread love, peace and happiness. l believe whole-heartedly in that message, as do most singer/songwriters. The news headlines this morning are full of the words and actions of people who spread hatred, so today is an especially wonderful day to get right into my music. Thank you for listening!
5 months ago
I can be a little on the serious side, especially given the times we are living in. I've written some pretty heavy songs over the past 5 months, including one about Breonna Taylor. Giving into whimsy and fun, though, is wonderful for my mental health. I think I am missing being a part of Girls Rock Camp Toronto, which is on hiatus this summer due to the pandemic. In addition to making music, campers there do lots of art-and-crafty things, such as silk screening t-shirts featuring self-designed band logos. Yesterday I had a fun craft-based idea: why not make a bed for my cat that looks like an amp? I first saw such a thing in an article I read about the Billy Joel Cat Rooms at North Shore Animal League, where the designer had made several such cat beds. Not wanting to make a replica - he had named his Feline, borrowing from Fender - I did online research and found Blackstar amps. I immediately thought to turn this brand name into Catstar, which is especially appropriate for a beloved cat whose name means 'star' in Spanish! Estrella watched with great interest as I constructed her amp bed from reinforced office supply boxes, covered it with black cloth, attached little Power and Channel buttons (made from chair floor protectors) and added the Catstar name and other the details with white pastel. The end result is quite convincing! And yes, it all felt a bit like Girls Rock Camp, where we are regularly visited by a handsome, gregarious, music-loving neighbourhood cat!
I encourage all of you to find and pursue fun where and when you can, whether or not you have kids or grandkids in your circle. Everybody's inner child needs to be nourished, especially during times of social uncertainty. And of course, listen to good music as often as you can! I thank you from the bottom of my heart for listening to mine. Stay well, safe and happy :)
6 months ago
I hope that each and every one of you is staying safe and well. Please remember to take excellent care of yourselves and your loved ones during these challenging times.
I finally had the chance to record vocals for a new original song - at my harmonica player's studio while observing all safety precautions, of course! Since the song is for a still-secret community project that will not occur until 2021, I will have to wait until then to share it with you. But the joy of being able to properly record one of the MANY new songs that I have written over the past 6 months was HUGE!
Speaking of writing, I have come to see that creativity is essential in maintaining my well-being during the pandemic. I hope that all of you have a creative outlet in your lives. One of my favourite artists, Buffy Sainte-Marie, says it best: "Everybody’s creative. We create our songs and our paintings, our families and our children. Every one of us is on the cutting edge of the future. This is it right now. Do it now! Play now!" The article in which Buffy makes that statement is titled The Fierce, Childlike Creativity of Buffy Sainte-Marie. I've always thought of myself as having just that kind of creativity - passionate, yet also full of childlike wonder. I invite all of you to reacquaint yourselves with the power of your own inner, fiercely creative child! You will feel sheer joy as you do that.
Hugs from a physical distance,
N1M © 2003—2021
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