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
3 weeks 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!
2 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 :)
3 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,
4 months ago
I would not have become a singer/songwriter had I not first heard music written and performed by Black musicians. I have never understood how some white folks can love Black music but fail to stand up for the rights of Black people. I ask all white people to join me in dismantling anti-Black racism.
Now, here is some of the glorious music that has inspired me over the years - check it out while you stay safe and well!!
Stevie Wonder: I Wish; That Girl; Uptight (Everything's Alright); You Haven't Done Nothin'; Sir Duke
Earth, Wind & Fire: After The Love Has Gone; September; Saturday Night; That's The Way of the World;
Can't Hide Love
Fifth Dimension: Wedding Bell Blues; Save The Country; Stoned Soul Picnic; One Less Bell To Answer; Workin' on a Groovy Thing; Last Night (I Didn't Get To Sleep At All); Aquarius (Let The Sunshine In)
Marvin Gaye: What's Going On; Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler); Ain't That Peculiar;
Got To Give It Up; Trouble Man
Joan Armatrading: Warm Love; I'm Lucky; No Love; I Love My Baby; Temptation
Janet Jackson: Rhythm Nation; State of the World; Let's Wait Awhile
Bill Withers: Ain't No Sunshine; Harlem
Prince: 1999; Money Don't Matter; Let's Go Crazy
Martha and the Vandellas: Dancing In The Street; Heat Wave; Nowhere to Run
Chic: Good Times; Le Freak
The Commodores: Brick House; Sail On; Easy
Billy Preston: Nothing From Nothing; With You I'm Born Again; Will It Go Round in Circles
Nina Simone: Sinnerman; That's All I Ask; Young Gifted and Black; Mississippi Goddam
Margaret Bonds: Montgomery Variations IV; Troubled Water
Donna Summer: She Works Hard for the Money; Last Dance
Little Anthony and the Imperials: Hurt So Bad; Goin' Out of my Head
Michael Jackson: The Way You Make Me Feel; Billy Jean; I Just Can't Stop Loving You
Sade: Paradise; Haunt Me
The Brothers Johnson: Stomp; I'll Be Good To You
Aretha Franklin: Do Right Woman, Do Right Man; (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman; Freeway of Love
Al Jarreau: After All; We Got By; Never Explain Love
Natalie Cole: I've Got Love on my Mind; This Will Be; Pink Cadillac; Our Love
And some individual tunes: Ziggy Marley: Rebellion Rises; Bob Marley: Get Up Stand Up; Michael Kiwanuka: Black Man In A White World; Gloria Gaynor: I Will Survive; Alicia Keys: Fallin'; Mavis Staples: Turn Me Around; Whitney Houston: Saving All My Love; Perri: Feels So Good
5 months ago
I am wishing every one of you a very Happy Mother's Day! For those of you who don't live with a maternal figure, I know that it is difficult not to be able to visit Moms and Grandmas today and tell them how much you love them. The great thing about the digital age is that there are so many ways we can communicate our love and appreciation. My Mom passed away 10 years ago, but I still feel her presence. My Mother's Day posting on social media will be about the best advice my Mom ever gave me - which was "Practice your piano!" Even as a young girl, I came to love piano so much that Mom soon didn't need to sit beside me to ensure I practiced. She was constantly working, whether outside the home or upon returning from the workplace, always sewing or knitting something beautiful and practical for her kids. I know that she deeply appreciated my independent yearning to keep at my piano, as it was one less thing for her to have to supervise. She had a talent for supervision, having risen to middle management at her insurance company - no small feat for an immigrant woman decades ago. She was my role model in so many ways, and I am deeply grateful for the life lessons she gave me. Above all, she was a kind, music-loving person, and I hope that she is proud of the way that I try to carry on her legacy. Stay home, stay safe, and find a fun way to celebrate all the Moms in your life today!Read more
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