Calgary Bluesfest (2013)
Lynne began her musical career late in life. Shelving her passion for singing in her early twenties, Lynne dedicated her life to being a housewife and mother. She was a self-proclaimed "closet singer" for the next 25 years, singing only in her car alone. When she divorced at 43, she spent the next five years completing her grade 12 and earning a bachelors degree in professional writing. During that time she relieved the stress of university by re-awakening her hidden passion for singing and she began competing in vocal competitions.
"I entered a contest in the mall across the street from where I lived. I was so nervous; I almost chipped a tooth on the mic! I didn't win, of course, but I did draw a nice little crowd in the mall. The contest host picked up on that and offered to tutor me. Over the next several months he coached me on stage presence, coping with stage fright, mic technique, ad libbing between tunes... everything. I followed him around to his shows, and he did improve my performances dramatically. I will never forget him; Clarke something-or-other (laughing). The next contest I entered was six months later - and I won! And the one after that, and the one after that and I started thinking, hey; maybe I can do this..."
As Lynne began to win competitions consistently over the next several years, her vocals took her to the Big Valley Jamboree, the Ponoka Stampede, the Magnificent River Rats Festival, and numerous fundraisers, including the Cops for Cancer Ironman Team's fundraiser "Battle in the Saddle" in West Edmonton Mall. She was invited to sing the anthem two years in a row at the Winspear Centre in Edmonton to open the Alberta Bodybuilders Association Provincial Championships. And for the past five years, Lynne feels honoured to have been the anthem singer for her hometown Beaumont Chiefs Junior hockey team. ("Go, Chiefs!" she adds.) Her reputation as an anthem singer brought her the opportunity to sing the anthem on Canada Day for the Town of Beaumont, the Leduc Commerce business breakfast, and to open the Toastmasters District 42 Fall Convention in Edmonton, Alberta, this past fall.
Five years ago, the Beaumont Blues Festival was born in her hometown of Beaumont, Alberta. Lynne volunteered and requested a position that would see her interacting with the musicians in the green room. She has held that position every year since and now sits on the festival organizing committee.
"That first year was life-changing for me," she asserts. "I hadn't really known about the blues or heard much of it. I grew up with my grandmother in rural Alberta and she didn't really have music in the house. People ask me who my influences were as a kid and I tell them my grandmother singing Irish folk tunes. But turns out, it's kinda cool - because I don't really emulate anyone's style but my own now. "
But that day, she heard the blues and it drew her side-stage where she met Lonnie Hansen, the then president of the Edmonton Blues Society, and Mark Ammar, host of a local long-time running blues jam and the first of many jams Lynne was to attend.
"I heard this music and was like stunned and I had to find out more. 'What is this?' I remember asking Lonnie, and he just said, 'It's the blues, Lynne'. It's like that moment is frozen in time in my head. I felt like I had finally come home after a long, long, journey. It just grabbed me by the toes of my soul and it hasn't let go."
She made the contacts she needed to draw her from the contest realm into the live music scene. She began frequenting local jams obsessively, meeting musicians, consciously honing her style and vocals, and learning from other musicians who were all generous with sharing their knowledge. Before long, Lynne was singing with her own band and appearing as a frequent guest around town with several other bands.
At the former Rusty Reed's House of Blues, Lynne was heard at a jam and was invited back the next day to sing a set with The Rusty Reed Band. It was there she met drummer Joey DiMarco and the band Insomnia was formed. Insomnia hosted the Sunday jams at Rusty's for the next several months, and performed at the Beaumont Blues Festival in 2009.
Coming off the Beaumont stage that day, Lynne was approached by Brock Gillis, CBMA Blues Award winner for "Keyboard Player of the Year" (2012). He asked her if she would consider coming to Calgary to audition for GUNN (the opening Saturday act of the Calgary International Blues Festival last year), and she did exactly that. Commuting there for rehearsals, Lynne is now integrated into the band and GUNN will be performing at festivals and gigging extensively later this year. "And we are planning to record a new single soon, too," Lynne adds.
Lynne's appearances at jams drew notice and led to her being invited to sing a guest set with Bruce Conte (Tower of Power) at his central Alberta gigs and with Studebaker John at a New Year's Eve gig in Edmonton. She has performed as a guest at a SIRENS function in Edmonton, sharing the stage with Dave Babcock and his Jump Trio. At various local jams over the last five years, Lynne has sat in with MonkeyJunk, Kid Anderson, Victor Wainright, Marshall Lawrence, Harpdog Brown, Jimmy Guiboche and the Sleepers, Jared Sowan, Kelly Jay, Bill Dowey, Johnny Tornado, Tim Williams, and numerous others.
"I pinch myself every time I remember each one," she says. "It still feels surreal."
After her set with Bill Dowey at a local jam in Calgary last summer, Lynne was approached by Kelly Jay (of Crowbar) to perform a few tunes at his benefit last fall. As the only female vocalist to perform that night, Lynne considers that evening her "Calgary debut".
"The scene in Calgary is strong and the audience and those gifted way-cool musical cats at the Kelly Jay function were so unbelievably accepting and warm. That was a night I will never forget. "
With her newly found fans in Calgary, one in particular has remained committed to keeping Lynne informed about the opportunities in that city and he encouraged her to attend the vocal camp in February. Lynne took the advice, made the three-hour drive on icy roads, and that brings us to this point.
Her first single debuts right here on the Calgary International Blues Festival Website. Lynne is currently writing and recording her first solo CD, produced and co-written by Jared Sowan. She is now in the studio, recording with guests Jimmy Guiboche (guitar), Chris Brzezicki (bass), Jared Sowan (keys), and Grant Stovel (Drums). "This tune is my first real attempt at writing. Jared asked me what I wanted to write about, and I said, well, I don’t really know where to start - I've got a little bit of what I can't have, and a whole lot of what I don't want. He laughed and said 'love it!' and I was like, no, that wasn't a lyric, but it was too late - Jared grabbed the hook and ran with it. And that was it - we were off to the races! And the rest... well, I can't wait to see what that looks like! "