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Last Update: October 28, 2006
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“I was a skinny girl with oversized glasses, and on this particular evening, I was sitting in front of a black and white television set in the living room of my family’s farm house in Norway. I was watching The Muppet Show, with their “very special guest star, Mr. Kenny Rogeeers!!!” Kenny was on a train, surrounded by Muppets, singing “The Gambler”. A scraggly, old Muppet was sitting by the window, acting as the Gambler himself. At the time, I didn’t know country music from anything, but I just knew that I loved that sound, that honesty, that feel.
Fast-forward to some twenty years later, I’m all grown up, and have just finished laying down the final vocal track on my debut album in our home studio in Victoria, Australia. I go into the living room, turn on the TV, and start channel surfing. On one of the children’s channels, an old Muppet Show rerun is on. And it turns out to be the very same episode, the very same scene, and the very same Kenny Rogers sitting on that train singing “The Gambler” to his friend, the scraggly old Muppet by the window. I just watch, and think that I’ve come full circle.”
The story of singer/songwriter Ann-Marita’s life unfolds over four countries on three different continents. Growing up on a farm in the Norwegian mountains, she was as country as country gets. But with a great love of music and the desire to create some herself, without any role models closer than the stars of her parents’ record collection; Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Jim Reeves, Lynn Anderson, and of course – Kenny, she had to use her imagination. She taught herself to play air piano on a peculiarly shaped rock on her family’s property, before she eventually graduated onto an antique church organ with pump pedals, - the only musical instrument she had access to.
By the time Ann-Marita was a teenager, she was writing songs and performing wherever she could. She was influenced by other musical styles like rock and blues, which would color the sound that eventually was to become so uniquely her; the sound that has been referred to as “Ann-Marita Country”. Ann-Marita’s slow trip around the world started with many years living in a small mining community North of The Arctic Circle. Then, at fifteen, she spent a year living in Iowa, USA, as a foreign exchange student. This was followed by Gothenburg, Sweden; where she landed a two-year contract as the lead vocalist in an international show band performing on cruise ships in Northern Europe. Having completed her contract, she headed for Hollywood, California, where she after two years of music studies received the “Most Outstanding Vocal Student” award from the acclaimed Musicians Institute. Things were looking very bright, as Ann-Marita signed a two-album record deal with a Los Angeles-based production company. After a year of day-and-night recording sessions and many lessons learned, Ann-Marita found that the contract had been a scam, and her “production team” had mysteriously disappeared off the face of the planet. It was time to try something different.
Ann-Marita arrived in Australia in 2003, ready for a new beginning. Through the obstacles and turmoil, she had written the songs for her self-titled debut album, which was recorded in part in a friend’s studio in California, then finished in Melbourne, Australia, with the help of some of Australia’s top musicians; guitarists Brett Garsed and Stuart Fraser, keyboard player Chong Lim, and harmonica player Steve Williams, all from the John Farnham band. About the theme of her first album, Ann-Marita says: “This record is about growing up, and having to do it a little faster than expected. It’s about heartbreak, survival and finding your place in the world. I don’t write about rodeos or pickup trucks, but when someone tells me that they were moved by one of my songs, - even though they wouldn’t normally listen to country music, I know that I’ve hit the mark.”
Since the album’s release in June 2004, it has gained airplay in Australia, New Zealand, USA and a number of European countries, and propelled Ann-Marita past around 3,000 other artists to hit the # 35 spot on the Worldwide Mainstream Most Played Major & Indie Artists Chart by the end of 2004. Her single, “Face In The Crowd”, released through Comstock Records, hit # 4 on the independent country airplay charts in Scandinavia, The U.K., and Austria that same month. Critics are raving about this young Norwegian/Swedish/American/Australian singer/songwriter. Star Newspapers, Chicago calls Ann-Marita’s debut album “…a Down Under Gem”, and Australia’s Country Update Magazine says: “This is a very worthy introduction to an artist who obviously knows where she wants to go and has plenty of confidence in her ability to get there”.
That pretty much sums it up!
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