WELCOMING ANNEE L-V, BLUES VOCALIST FROM NEW ZEALAND
Here is a lady with the most unique voice - I have to admit I am not usually a fan of the blues - but the samples of her music that I have been fortunate enough to hear - her voice is absolutely beautiful. To me, it almost holds mystery - it's something I want to hear more of. It reaches out - once heard, in my humble opinion - never forgotten.
So - welcome ANNEE.
Annee has answered her interview questions as a whole so it is being published exactly as she answered - as a whole. Please enjoy her story.
'I come from a very musical family and started singing at a very early age. Our extended family would meet at my Grandmother’s house (in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, NZ) every time there was a special occasion e.g. Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day etc and everyone would join in with the music having a great time. Family played piano, guitar, vibraphones and of course sang. My uncle was a multi instrumentalist who played with well-known Jazz bands, so the parties really rocked. The piano would be moved outside and away we would go.
'My cousin and I were in the same class throughout primary school and everyday he would play the banjo, guitar or piano at school and I would sing. We would get out of classes just to go and do our music; in fact we were out of class more than in class. This went on until just before secondary school and we were known as the performing cousins. Every spare day we had, we would perform music at home and everyone knew where we would be if they were looking for us.
'My Mum and Dad encouraged both my brother and I to sing, always wanting to hear us. When I was around 11, my Dad came into contact with a person who was a music entrepreneur, who was very interested in us. He mentioned both my brother’s and my singing and we went along to this huge studio to perform.
'My Mum and Dad knew very early on that when I performed it was different – I had a strength and depth to my voice that was unusual for a child of that age. Sadly, soon after my Dad passed away suddenly and left my family devastated with his loss. I knew that he loved my singing and I continued to sing with the encouragement from my Mum, Brother, Grandmother and Aunty.
'I feel a great sadness that my Mum, Dad and Grandmother never saw me perform as I do today and never knew that I would go out and be a performer with a band of very talented musicians and do Festivals, some of which have had between 6 and 8,000 people in attendance.
'I then reached my mid teens and my music fell away, although I still loved to sing with my cousin at family events and the occasional gig. I then married and had my children – I was so busy at this point in time. I would always find time to sing at home or in the shower.
'In 2001 I lost my Mum, and life as we knew it changed dramatically. The person we would see everyday and who was so much a part of our lives had gone. It was a very difficult time. I inherited some money from my Mum and Dad and bought a stereo that allowed me to remove vocals and add my own with the music. This was the real beginning for me. I would spend hours changing and adapting songs and gradually got better and better in my performance of them.
'In 2003 I suffered a life threatening event when I collapsed at home. I was rushed to hospital after I had gone into shock with internal bleeding into my stomach from endometriosis. After having a blood transfusion and major surgery, I made a slow recovery. When the hospital tried to give me anaesthetic before my operation, they found they could not get the breathing tube down my throat and had to go in through my throat fibre optically from the outside. I was so worried I would not be able to sing again.
'This event made me determined to use my talent to the best of my ability and never waste a day. Fortunately after 6 weeks recovery I found I could sing as strong as I ever could and it made me appreciate my voice more than ever.
'I went along to a country music club. I sang and loved the experience. This was where I started to perform again and found I had the ability to adapt my music on the spot to fit with any band. I found I could create a whole new song and had the foresight to be able to instantly create music. I also found that I loved to do songs in my own style.
'After trying out with quite a few cover bands I found that I did not like doing performances exactly the same as the original cover and wanted to add my own touch and flavour. I wanted to bring in songs that were different and distinguishable.
'My first band was then formed, called “Dreamboat Annee” – this was a mixture of genres and did very well. However, it still did not feel like it was the right direction for me; I then went on to create the first Annee 2CU (the name came about through a song that I had sang with my cousin and then recreated called I Cannot See to See You – originally by Dusk). This song meant a lot to me and was played at my Mum’s funeral. Annee 2CU initially played at the
created quite an interest, but it still did not feel right to me. Bay of Islands Country Rock Festival
'I knew that I had to redefine the band from a general country style band to something that had more depth and meaning for me. This is where the blues came into it: the power, the emotion, the effect for me was amazing. I was so passionate about the blues and wanted to do many blues styles not just limit it to one style of blues.
'Hence, the Annee 2CU Blues Band of today came alive.
'We performed as a blues band for the first time at the
Festival in 2010 and the interest was huge, it just took off from then on. Bay
of Islands Jazz
'I always wanted to entertain with my singing – it felt so right and it was truly lovely to see people’s reaction. I think it really hit home when an elderly lady came up to me and said “you sing like an angel”. To this day, I remember her saying that and knew I wanted to give with my singing to people. It is not about making money but about giving pleasure to others with a gift I have been given. To see people enjoy my music is all the return I need.
'I also learnt that when you are out in the public arena, you will receive negativity as well as praise; I grew stronger in my belief in myself to walk through any negativity. I now see negativity as something that gives me strength in my music and it does not bother me. Negativity only makes me stronger and more determined to perform well.
'I also knew I wanted to entertain and would dearly love to perform as a full time job, but unfortunately particularly in
it is not easy to do this full time. When I entertain on stage it is like I go
onto a different plateau – I can reach out to people and connect on a very
emotive level and communicate with them through the song. This is what I have always wanted to do. New Zealand
'Ultimately, I love the blues, but I have sung lots of genres. I have sung country rock, pop, jazz and straight rock. I enjoy all music, but blues has to be my passion. The blues tells a story about life; its sorrows and highs. It does not have to be perfect just believed and raw.
'I have been singing since I was a small child, but professionally since 2004 -5. My real musical career really took off in 2010. No professional training (I did have an assessment, but no training - my voice is untouched, so completely natural, flaws and allJ).
'I manage the band and my husband is the events manager. This has worked really well, but as the band is progressing at a very fast rate and getting beyond our management ability it will become evitable that we get an outside manager.
'In my spare time I sing at home and enjoy my family (My husband and I have four children). When I get stressed or uptight my husband always tells me to go and sing as it is a wonderful stress reliever for me.
'My husband inspires me – he has encouraged me so much and given me the confidence to go out and really perform and he believes in me with a faith that is out of this world. When I am on stage, I always look across and into his eyes and I know I am doing something wonderful and walking the path of my dreams. My children are so proud and that means the world to me.
'Professionally blues wise, my inspirations are Robert Cray, Gary Moore and Etta James.
'Outside of music I work as a senior Personal Assistant. I have worked in the automotive industry, Drug and Alcohol and also Domestic Violence and worked as a legal personal assistant.
'My long term professional goal is to perform on tour in America and possibly Germany. We have a huge following from Germany and they have been really supportive.
'Short term, we are doing a CD recording in May this year – I am really excited about this as our feature song will be the song When a Blind Girl Cries. This was originally a Deep Purple song and I have adapted it to my own style and it is the most emotionally charged song I have performed along with St Gabriel (a song about a woman who was abused and ended up in the Louisiana Women’s Penitentiary in St Gabriel, Louisiana). These songs are on our website.
'I have been so fortunate to have a team of first class musicians in my band who believe in me and they can play these songs with the same emotion as I can perform them and understand my every move on stage.
'I do not enter into competitions, so no awards – although I have had two NZ number one songs on “Soundclick”.
'I was interviewed for Blockhouse Bay NewsTalk before going to the Bay of Islands in 2012. (I have attached the article).
'I have belonged to various music clubs in the past, but my time is now taken up with rehearsals for Annee 2CU Blues Band.
'Ultimately I have the skills of being a wife and Mum to my family – I see these as my greatest achievements. I have a tattoo on my leg which symbolises this. A heart with music notes entwined through it and around the heart is a large blue star for my husband and three smaller blue stars for my three boys and a small pink star for my daughter.
'I have trained as an administration manager and senior personal assistant and have gained additional skills by working in not-for-profit organisations such as drug and alcohol.
'Music is about feeling and giving. There is nothing more powerful than a song that is about a true emotive issue. As an entertainer or performer you feel the song, you live the song’, you become the song, and you become so engrossed in the performance the world stops around you. You leave the stage exhausted but exhilarated and know you have given everything. As my career has progressed I feel and see a wonder in these songs mentioned above and know that they are about real people and real events in life. I believe that my singing can give hope, insight, inspiration and freedom to many.
'An example I would love to share about the wonder of music is when I went to my son’s birthday party and everyone sang Happy Birthday. There was a guest there who had recently had a severe stroke. He stood beside me and listened as we sang the song. I could not believe my ears when I heard him sing line for line the Happy Birthday song, perfectly clear and loud. We finished and he struggled once again to talk. The power of music touched a part of his brain that allowed him to do that. To this day I will always remember that and know I can give this incredible strength to people and that is all I ask'.