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Ariana Gillis – CD Release – Forget Me Not

Thursday November 24, 2011
Tickets: $18 Advance/$20 Door
Performance: 8:30pm

with very special guest Katherine Wheatley

Not every young Canadian singer-songwriter gets to launch her CD with a live appearance on the US satellite station Sirius XM. The show was hosted by Dave Marsh, author of more than 25 books on rock and roll and known as the “dean of American rock writers” who admits to being her biggest fan.
 
But that’s how Ariana Gillis , from St. Catharines, Ontario  — who turned 21 earlier this month — began to premiere her second album, Forget Me Not. Earlier, Marsh had played a track — “John and the Monster” — from an advance copy of the CD; one response was a phone call from an enthusiastic listener who wanted to know more about the unusual song, and the singer. The mystery caller was Elton John’s lyricist and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.
 
Later, he wrote to the young singer’s father, musician and producer David Gillis: “I’m staggered by how good she is. There is not much that impresses me these days but after hearing her available tracks I can honestly say she’s the single most exciting thing I’ve heard in a very long time.”
 
Back at home after a whirlwind trip to New York, which included showcase appearances at the North East Regional Folk Alliance conference in the Catskills, she immediately began planning a “mini tour” which includes a show at Hugh’s Room in Toronto.
 
Forget Me Not, like her first CD, To Make It Make Sense, is a collection of Ariana’s original songs. “Original” not only indicates that she wrote or co-wrote all the songs, but that the subjects are unusual. Not many artists (regardless of their age) write songs about creatures in a lake with healing powers, people in adjacent graves chatting with each other, the annual slaughter of dolphins in a cove in Japan, or young sailors forced to walk the plank.
 
Chosen as Young Performer of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards, she is fulfilling the promise many people have seen since she put out her first EP when she was 17.
 
Unusually, her chief collaborator is her father, David Gillis, himself an excellent acoustic guitarist with his own solo career. He produced the new CD, co-wrote several of the songs, and plays banjo and/or guitar on every track.
 
Best summary came from Andy Frank, who helps create the Roots Music Canada website:  “A blast of energy and fearless confidence, Ariana Gillis sings and strums and stomps and leaves ripples behind her wherever she goes. With an impressive vocal range and a firm grasp on the craft of songwriting, Ariana is unstoppable There is an intense, driving force behind her folk/pop sound, and a deeper story behind every song.” 

  

In a recent review of a show in Thunder Bay, Hubert O’Hearn of The Chronicle Journal wrote “Katherine Wheatley gave an absolutely transcendent concert. She is able to take minor observations in life and find their soul. On stage…she exudes sheer kindness and love. Blessedly, refreshingly, Katherine Wheatley is a truly Canadian original”. With offhand wit, vibrant lyrics and an infectious passion for performing, Katherine has been captivating audiences everywhere she performs. According to the Ottawa Citizen “This is a performer to keep you on the edge of your seat.”

Katherine graduated from Queen’s University with a geology degree and spent five seasons roughing it in the bush, gathering not only rock samples but material for her songs. It was only a matter of time before she left her tent and recorded her first CD, Straight Line. Produced by John Switzer, it spent 17 weeks on Sam’s Top Ten Independent Charts. Katherine’s second CD, Habits and Heroes, was produced by David Travers-Smith. It has garnered praise from fans and critics alike and has helped her to launch a strong touring career.

Katherine grew up in Parry Sound, Ontario. Her passion for songwriting began with a $13 guitar ordered from the Sears Catalogue. Years later, after four seasons working north of Flin Flon, Manitoba, she headed to Africa. It was there that a new found sense of adventure prompted her to write a journal and discover her own inner lyricist.

Katherine has been a regular at folk festivals, concert series and clubs across Canada since the release of her first CD. As well as her own career, she is a member of the Toronto band, Betty and the Bobs; is a guitarist in Wendell Ferguson’s trio “The Smoking Section”; she presents songwriting, vocal and independent music career workshops at schools, folk clubs and music stores across Canada; and she is the currently the ambassador for the campaign to raise six million dollars for the new hospital in her home town of Parry Sound, Ontario.

Katherine’s music has been used for documentaries, tv series and films. Among numerous radio and television appearances, she has been a featured vocalist on Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe, as well as a musical guest on Morningside with Peter Gzowski, This Morning with Bernard St. Laurent, TVO’s Studio Two, and CBC Radio’s Vicki Gabareau Show. She performed her song “On A Beach In France” on CTV’s Canada AM and Good Morning Canada to commemorate the anniversary of Dieppe.

According to the Toronto Star, Katherine Wheatley “turns pebbles of every day life into dreamy mountains of song”. Warren Footz from SEE Magazine in Edmonton wrote “As a listener, it’s hard not to sit back, close your eyes and watch the movie play. And man, can this serene red head ever play guitar”.