INTERVIEWS & REVIEWS
Watch on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT005f-65fU
Tell us about your 2 new single releases.
My new songs are “Diamonds and Stiletto Shoes” and “Lately It’s Cold”. As it turns out, this is THE winter to release the latter! I began to write it a few winters ago and completed it not long before heading into the studio to record it, just this past October. I wanted to write a great Canadian song about how we REALLY feel after a few weeks of winter. We love our snow throughout Hanukkah, Christmas and the New Year, and some of us maybe even up until Valentine’s Day, but after that, unless we’re kids or winter athletes, we get TIRED of the bitter cold. And for those of us who can’t afford a winter escape to a tropical climate, we need to create an inner sense of relief from the deep freeze. You hear SO many sentimental and upbeat songs about the winter weather in the period of time leading up to Christmas – I wanted to write about the winter blues in an honest, refreshing way.
“Diamonds and Stiletto Shoes” is a break-up song, but not the kind of break-up song we’re used to hearing in pop music. I suspect that most listeners will think that the song is about the break-up of an intimate partner relationship, which is OK, but here’s the real story: ALL kinds of relationships break up: best friends, siblings, parents and adult children, to name a few. Sometimes there are just irreconcilable differences and the involved parties have to go their own ways. (Yes, that is a tip of the hat to Lindsey Buckingham/Fleetwood Mac’s tune.) The break-up of these types of relationships is no less hurtful or traumatic – in fact, it can be more so, because we don’t talk about these kinds of break-ups in our society or in pop music nearly as much. We feel betrayed, hurt, angry, the usual gamut of emotions, and we have to find a way to move on. “Diamonds…” is specifically about parents realizing that a child they have loved and cared for has not turned out to be a caring, loving adult. Our society generally opines that children are tabula rasas, that parents can mold them, and so it blames parents when kids grow up to be uncaring people. But the truth is that kids are not tabula rasas – EACH of us is born with an inherent personality, and sometimes all the love and caring in the world does not result in a child growing up to be an empathetic adult. It is a hard thing to accept as a parent. So, I wanted to explore that theme.
What’s different about these songs from others you've released?
“Diamonds…” is a co-write with my amazing spouse Georgia Wilder! She writes, mostly short stories and poetry up to this point, and she teaches writing at the University of Toronto, but this is her first foray into writing song lyrics. It came about this way: I had written the song and the first draft of the lyrics. When Georgia heard the song, she loved it but suggested some lyric changes. Since I did indeed have some inner reservations about the first set of lyrics and the initial song title in particular, I went with Georgia’s ideas, and before we knew it, we had co-written a whole new set of lyrics! Our producer Karen Kane heard them and suggested we go for another draft - that we hadn’t quite nailed it, and so we kept refining and rewriting until we had what all of us thought was strong. This was a brand new experience for me – I am usually a solo songwriter. The one other time I co-wrote with somebody (many years ago) was not a positive experience for me, but this was both challenging and fun.
Do you play on your own albums or bring in studio musicians?
I always play on my own recordings. I have traditionally also brought in studio musicians, but this time I was determined to also use some musicians with whom I perform live. I met my backup singer Karen Dinardo while recording “Glimmer In The Dark” in 2011, and we have been gigging together ever since, so she was of course back for the “Diamonds…” and “Lately…” sessions! I met my harmonica player Bryn Scott-Grimes at a Songwriters Unite show in 2012, and my guitarist/bassist Bob Cohen at a Suzanne Nuttall and Friends show I did early in 2013, and have been gigging with both guys ever since as well. Both laid down amazing tracks, Bob on both new tunes, and Bryn on “Lately…”. It sure was a fun and different experience recording with folks who share the stage with me regularly!
Tell us about the CD cover and what inspired the images.
My friend Sheryl Stevenson took the photo for the cover of “Diamonds…”. She really captured the darkness I was looking for, the sense of foreboding. Like we say in the song, “this is not a happy ending”. My friend the late great Patricia Howard painted the cover image for “Lately It’s Cold”, although not expressly for the purpose of being an album cover. We loved this painting and purchased it from her a few years ago, and it seemed like a natural choice to depict both the beauty and the bleakness of the deep Canadian winter. She passed away last summer, and had no idea that her painting would later grace the cover of “Lately It’s Cold”. I think she would have been thrilled to see that happen, and I am glad to be able to pay tribute to her talents in this way.
Is there a genre of music that you secretly love and wouldn’t mind recording in someday?
Yes – dance! In fact, we will record a dance version of “Diamonds and Stiletto Shoes” later this year! The beats are already done. I am VERY excited about this. I can get into all genres of music, and I realized that “Diamonds…” could and indeed should have 2 different interpretations.
Have you always been openly OUT as a gay artist? If not, when and why did you make the decision to be out?
When I made my debut album “Anna Gutmanis”, I was not very out in the music world. This was way back in the late 80s-early 90s, before Melissa Etheridge, kd lang or any other famous musician had come out. I didn’t have the maturity and confidence to come out under those circumstances, especially as a young indie artist. Later on, after I had taken my hiatus from the music business to raise kids, return to school and do social work, I decided that I would record “I Am Who I Am”, my queer liberation song. It was a very conscious decision to return to the business as an out-and-proud musician. I had to come back completely honest or not come back at all. I have not looked back ever since!
What is your opinion on artists giving away their music for free?
Everyone loves music, but there is a new cultural shift toward not remunerating the folks who create it. As indie artists, we all want our music to be heard by as many people as possible, and so we give out a few freebies. It’s a necessary evil. That being said, when I see musicians giving away their services and recordings for free all the time, I get upset, because this just adds to the expectation that we all work for free all the time. This then becomes a class issue: if nobody gets paid, only the musicians who have means will be able to continue making music. That would be a devastating loss.
Tell us what makes you truly happy.
I love being at home with the cats creating music! I’m also enjoying performing more and more. And of course I love to spend time with my spouse Georgia.
Are you in a relationship? How long for? Do you live together? Married?
Georgia and I have been together for over 22 years, and married for 8 of those. She’s amazing, one of the most intelligent and compassionate people on the planet.
How do you feel the fight for human/equal rights is going?
We see a lot of gains and a lot of setbacks as LGBTQ people. For every state that legalizes same-sex marriage, a nation legalizes ill-treatment of its LGBTQ citizens. The Olympics in Russia have really focused attention on that. The other night at my release concert, I dedicated “Another Way Out” to LGBTQ folks in Russia, and asked audience members not to forget about them after the Olympics. There is SO much work to be done locally and globally, and it is a great time to be an out musician. The power of music to educate and influence people is huge, so let’s use it.
The song that changed my life was...
“Stoney End” by Laura Nyro! I remember falling asleep as a small kid with that song in my head, thinking that I wanted to do what Laura Nyro did – to write and perform songs that move people
Ontario, Canada – Singer/songwriter Anna Gutmanis is no stranger to Canada’s independent music scene. Her self-titled 1989 release was met with high regard, and her single ‘Then Came You’ can still be heard on commercial radio stations throughout the country. Her powerful fusion of indie, soul, blues, and R&B on Glimmer In the Dark is just part what drives her music. Having come from a family of music lovers, she is able to use music to examine societal issues and produce a form of activism through song.
Personal accounts of living an often-stigmatized lifestyle provide the inspiration for her most recent single: ‘I Am Who I Am’. Promoting understanding through introspection, the song offers a unique perspective on the often-polarizing gay and lesbian movement through the eyes of anindividual immersed in it. Having already received exposure on various indie, women’s and LGBT radio stations, ‘I Am Who I Am’ won the Pride in the Arts Pride Song Award, and was nominated for Best Song So Far for the RightOUT TV Music and Video Awards. The award-winning single offers a glimpse at what listeners can expect on Glimmer in the Dark. Working with Juno-nominated producer Karen Kane, the album was recorded at Chalet Studios and was mastered at Phase One Studios in Toronto, which has seen the likes of Bono, Rihanna, and Sting. Thought-provoking and bold, Glimmer in the Dark features some of the most talented musicians in the Toronto area, and represents Anna Gutmanis’ strongest musical effort to date. Political songs (‘People (Got To Get It Together)’), romantic tunes (‘First In Love’), joyous Caribbean-influenced numbers (‘In The Sun’) and the jazzy title track showcase the depth of Anna’s songwriting skills. And eminent music critic Gregg Shapiro has suggested that Bonnie Raitt cover ‘Middle of the Line’, a song that many women will take to heart.
While listeners all over Canada take notice, Anna plans on building upon the momentum of ‘I Am Who I Am’. In the near future, she will play numerous gigs throughout the Toronto area and begin work on a new video for the moving ‘Another Way Out’, a song about bullying. Until then, ‘I Am Who I Am’ can be purchased at iTunes, Amazon, and Bandcamp.com, and Glimmer in the Dark can be found at CD Baby and Bandcamp.com.
For more information on Anna Gutmanis and her intelligent brand of rock and roll activism, check out her website at www.annagutmanis.com, and the Anna Gutmanis Facebook Page.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Anna Gutmanis • 2 New Singles!
Singer/songwriter Anna Gutmanis has released two new singles, both hitting the store shelves this week, much to my delight. You know what is even better? I love them both! The Canadian artist lists musical greats like Laura Nyro, Billy Joel, and Joan Armatrading among her influences, and it is easy to hear them all in her most recent release, "Glimmer in the Dark". Her music is stylish Pop, often piano-driven, with lyrics that make stand alone with both grace and strength. And when she started working on the new singles, she brought all that and more. With the guitar and harmonica opening for "Lately It's Cold", bringing the blues to a winter's day. I was getting some Bonnie Raitt realness, with a bit of Armatrading's edge, and when blended together, I sit up and pay strong attention.
From the opening bars of "Diamonds and Stiletto Shoes", we know we are getting a different type of song with the second single. The song is piano Pop, more Billy Joel than Raitt. But there is more, with a tropical underpinning that adds depth to the chorus, and a richness to the song. While the lyrics was co-written by Gutmanis and Georgia Wilder, the song maintains the feel of a classic Gutmanis song, with a lyric bite wed perfectly to the Ska beat and feel. I started getting a feel of one of my favorite 80s bands, with one of my favorite songwriters (Terry Hall), The Specials.
‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ column
Social media has been a boon not only for me as a reviewer, but independent artists looking for exposure that is now denied to them through traditional media. Ironically, it was Facebook that brought me to the attention of Anna Gutmanis – an artist that lives about 12 minutes from my house. ‘Glimmer In the Dark’ is a life’s work for the singer-songwriter keyboardist who lets us in to hear intimate audio snapshots of her life growing up over the course of 30 years. The album plays out like a musical version of the British coming-of-age documentaries ‘7 Up’. We get to experience, with her, the awkwardness of teen angst and (non) acceptance on “Another Way Out” to confronting the pressures of adulthood, parenthood, occupational burn-out, and other mid-life crises on “When I Get Out of Bed”, “Middle of The Line” and “The Rain” (the oldest composition on the disc). Gutmanis jockeys between musical styles as with her sultry mid-baritone and exceptional piano work. Songs like “Hello Again” and “First In Love” (featuring second vocalist Karen Dinardo) exude a playful and poignant Leonard Cohen cabaret breeziness while “People (Got To Get It Together)” finds Gutmanis channeling her best Mavis Staples inspirational gospel voice.
“You Won’t Be Sorry” and “In the Sun” both recall the music of the tropics – reggae for the former and Jimmy Buffett yacht Rock for the latter. Gutmanis is comfortable wearing all these hats. The production by Karen Kane along with the exceptional backing musicians – specifically the tasty guitar work of Wayne DeAdder – elevate this release from independent vanity project to seriously professional. And any album that features a singing appearance by a cat (“The Voice of Bliss”) is all good in my book.
December 1, 2012
Indie artist Anna Gutmanis' album "Glimmer In The Dark" has been released for nearly a year (January 2012), but even so, it is still well deserving of attention. Gutmanis is a distinctive artist with excellent musicians backing her up, and the arrangements on this album are impressive.
The album begins with the track “First In Love”, which gave me a good sense of care in production quality that was taken for this recording. Anna plays a hook on the piano that reminds of the good old “Pretzel Logic” Steely Dan days. Her voice is deep and expressive, and her sound incorporates great harmonies in her arrangements. Karen Dinardo really blends well with Anna’s voice. Colleen Allen has a fine alto sax tone, one which is bright, but not abrasive. There are great sub-tones on the jazzy “Glimmer In The Dark”, and the vibe of “Moondance” comes across well with walking bass lines that are very effective, courtesy of Wayne DeAdder. Those chord changes are much hipper than “Moondance” btw.
Anna takes it to church on “People (Got To Get It Together)", which is a social wakeup call. The piano chords on the front are powerful. Terry Nash and Dajaun have a great organ/percussion breakdown on the transition. Anna sings with conviction and the background harmonies are tremendously soulful.
There is a wide range of styles on this CD, from blues and country ("Middle Of The Line"), to pop and rock. Wayne DeAdder is a chameleon on the guitar. Listeners will also find reggae and rock on "First In Love", on which DeAdder plays bass.
Reviewing “Glimmer In The Dark” was a bright spot in my day, and will impress any music lover who appreciates hearing the voice of experience, social consciousness, and outstanding music!
"Falling for Lesbians", October 4, 2012
"Glimmer in the Dark (Ban-Anna), by Canadian lesbian singer/songwriter Anna Gutmanis, is a 13-track disc featuring songs written over the course of almost 30 years. From politically-oriented numbers such as the call to arms "People (Got to Get it Together)," "Another Way Out" (about bullying), and the "out and proud" anthem "I Am Who I Am" to romantic tunes including "First in Love" and "Hello Again," cat-lover Gutmanis radiates with her musical mission. The album's most ambitious track, "Middle of the Line," features a blazing electric guitar solo, and sounds like something that Bonnie Raitt would cover."
CD Review "Glimmer In The Dark" Review by: Len Rogers
Anna Gutmanis has a gorgeous deep voice, and her pop songs speak of love and coming out and people getting together. The CD has 13 tracks and they're all good to hear.
Anna Gutmanis is a local singer and pianist and this self-titled cassette is her debut recording. Her style is essentially pop/rock though she does draw on other styles. Her songs deal primarily with different angles of love, the exception being “’Til Doomsday”, a song about drug and alcohol abuse. The songs demonstrate a strong sense of writing in the pop format and her strong voice handles them with ease.
The first song on the tape is also one of the best. “If You Want A Lover” is an upbeat song that draws on clear R & B influences for a large part of its appeal. This is followed up with a couple of more laid back songs. “Baby Doll” and “Still In Love” are tunes that are reminiscent of an Elton John kind of feel.
The second side again begins strongly with “Then Came You”, possible the catchiest song on the tape due to its reggae-tinged arrangement. The side finishes off with “’Til Doomsday”, another tune with a slight R & B feel and “Out of Time”, a piano-based pop song. Anna’s tape is well produced and the instrumentations were well chosen. Her biggest asset, however, is her vocal ability and it is unlikely that anyone could find her material offensive.
June 11th, 2010 5:39 am CT - Dustin Alexander Milwaukee Top News Examiner
Link to Article
PrideFest is this weekend at Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee. The weather forecast is warm and the music promises to be even hotter.
The Examiner interviewed the following stars that will be appearing at PrideFest. From Indie, to folk and country rock, from coast to coast, each lady brings their own style to the live stage. The artist's name, where they're from as well as when and where they will appear at PrideFest is included.
Anna Gutmanis, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – Saturday 2:15 p.m. - PrideFest Rainbow Stage
Winning the 2009 Pride Song Award, Gutmanis will be doing a mini Pride tour this summer. Her music video for the film I Am Who I Am will be shown at the International GLBT Film Festival in Virginia on June 26th.
What brings fans to her shows? Gutmanis said, "I'd like to think it's the strength of my songs and voice. I think my songs are memorable.” The single Then Came You from her debut album is still getting airplay on Canadian commercial radio stations. Gutmanis is heading back into the studio next year with the hopes of recording an entirely new album. "I performed in the U.S. for the first time last year. It was a blast!” One of Gutmanis favorite artists is Patti LaBelle who will be playing the Miller Main Stage Saturday at 10 p.m.
"I Am Who I Am" Named "2009 Pride Song" at Pride In The Arts Awards March 23, 2010
Link to Article
Canadian singer/songwriter Anna Gutmanis still can’t believe that her song "I Am Who I Am” won the "2009 Pride Song” category at the 6th Pride In The Arts Awards on March 21st. "I was in some pretty illustrious company and expected to cheer for Scott Free, Nick Granato, Sugarbeach or Shawn Thomas when they won the category”, says the musician. "I’m really humbled by this whole experience, and the depth of talent in our queer music community amazes me”.
Other PITA music award winners included Dan Manjovi’s "Somethin’s Comin’ My Way” for "2009 Fan Award Song”. The song is featured in the Oscar-winning film "Precious”.
Until now, Anna has been best-known for the single "Then Came You”, released on her eponymous 1989 debut album and still receiving airplay more than two decades later. She will be hitting U.S. and Canadian stages this summer, most notably for PrideFest Milwaukee, the world’s largest LGBT music festival.
The PITA awards show premiered Sunday March 21st on Rainbow World Radio, where it can be streamed until April 4th. For the full list of award winners, go to the Pride In The Arts website at http://www.prideinthearts.com/index.htm .
NEW SINGLES “DIAMONDS AND STILETTO SHOES” AND “LATELY IT’S COLD”
"‘Diamonds and Stiletto Shoes’ is a good song with a great hook" - Gary Dayze, Vegas Entertainment Radio
"Anna Gutmanis is doing a really original sounding cabaret motif. I’ve gotten a sneak peak of a new song called “Diamonds and Stilettos” that I’m currently enjoying from her upcoming album" - Jaimie Vernon, "The Feminine Musique"
“GLIMMER IN THE DARK”
"Anna Gutmanis jump started her activism roots and gave the world a gift when she released "I Am Who I Am" with its very powerful message for equal rights and pride of who we are as human beings. Many people were like me and asked, "How can she top that one?" She surprises the world once again and releases "Glimmer in the Dark" and every track is greater than the last. Anna and everyone who made this CD possible....you nailed it! As a producer of an LGBT radio show, it is artists like you that turn out to be a 'gift' to me in finding you and giving you a 'voice' on my radio show to share your story and put your wonderful music into the ears of my audience to enjoy. The best part.....I now call you my friend." -Tom Edmondson, Producer - The Tenth Voice 90.1FM KKFI Kansas City, Missouri USA
"I personally LOVE Anna’s new album "Glimmer In The Dark"! I hope it gleans the rewards/awards which in my opinion are justly deserved." -Anita Gibbons, Producer, "Women On Waves", JOY Melbourne
"I really enjoyed “Glimmer In The Dark”, and I especially liked the variety of the songs." - Dayle Gowan, CJAI, Amherst Island Public Radio, Stella ON
"I played "People (Got To Get It Together)" on Friday and peeps were amazed" - Daddy K, ROCK-FM.ca
"There is a wonderful tone to “The Rain”, the beautiful song by Anna Gutmanis, off the album “Glimmer In The Dark”. While listening, I begin to feel bewitched, transported into the story." - Howard Stump, “Soundtrack to my Day”
"In 2008 Canadian Anna Gutmanis released an anthem. Now, that’s a pretty bold statement, but it’s been over three years and it’s still riding high on the Outvoice charts. The song is "I Am Who I Am," and the lyrics proclaim just what you think they do. I've played it a number of times on my shows, and I try not to repeat many songs… Well, now she has a new release and I just want folks to know about it. It’s called "Glimmer in the Dark," and I already have a favorite song, called "Another Way Out," but then I always go for the queerest song on anyone’s album -JD Doyle, Queer Music Heritage KPFT-FM, Houston
"Fine production, strong, powerful yet clear vocals - CJKM Cheticamp NS
"The tunes are refreshing and have great energy" - CHOQ Montreal QC
"Great easy listening vibe" - CISM Montreal QC
"The tunes are fresh and catchy" - CJLX Belleville ON
"Fantastic production" - CKUW Winnipeg MB
"The production is solid and the title track is great" - CKMO Victoria BC
SINGLE "I AM WHO I AM"
"A song I had to hear (I Am Who I Am), a voice I could not believe and a personality that glows" - Denise Holliday, Over The Rainbow, CKDU Halifax
"(I Am Who I Am) stuck with me from the first time I heard it. Excellent songwriting!" - Annette Conlon, 'Nette Radio, Los Angeles
DEBUT EP “ANNA GUTMANIS”
“Refreshing sound!” – CBC Thunder Bay ON
“Cool shit!” – CRSG-FM Montreal QC
“Pop pleasure!” – CFLR-FM La Romaine QC
“Great album!” – CKWR-FM, Kitchener ON
“Steady on. Sounds good!” – CKIC Winnipeg MB
“Impressive. Send us more!” – CIRL, Southend SK
Anna’s debut album also received Spotlight features on the legendary CFNY-FM Toronto (with Hal Harbour), CKLN-FM Toronto, CFPL-FM London, CHUO-FM Ottawa, CJYR-FM Edison AB, and CKNX Wingham ON.