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Christopher Ward

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Alannah Myles

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Alannah Myles knew she wanted to be a singer and a star by the age of five. Her father produced Canada’s first radio show (The Happy Gang) and her mother played piano and sang, but they tried to discourage Myles’s interest in music. She listened to classical, opera and jazz growing up, but by age fifteen she was writing her own songs and emulating her favorite country and folk artists, Leonard Cohen, Donovan and Joni Mitchell.

At 19 she got herself an agent and played mostly original material all over Toronto, but it was difficult to support her doing that, so to supplement her income she started doing television work, appearing in ads that hocked anything and everything. By the time she was ready to settle down and pursue music seriously, she had a hard time overcoming the Canadian media’s perception of her as a TV personality. Still, she persisted with her musical endeavors and landed herself a gig opening for Christopher Ward across the country, using his band to back her up.

This was the beginning of a musical and personal relationship between the two that has since seen the romantic side fizzle but the musical side flourish. She had a hard time, however, convincing anyone in Canada that she was a viable artist with music that would sell, and A&R reps from every Canadian label rejected her outright. Finally, Bob Roper at WEA came forward and was so impressed with her demo that he sent a copy of it to Atlantic in the US. Within 48 hours a call came back and a deal was signed shortly thereafter.

Going into the studio with Ward and veteran producer David Tyson, Myles set about creating a self-titled debut album that, ultimately, shocked the Canadian industry into submission. Released in 1990, the first single “Love Is” was picked up at rock radio across the country and sparked the listening audience’s interest, but it wasn’t until the release of “Black Velvet”, an ode to Elvis, that the US public sat up and took notice. And took notice they did - not only did the song go to Number One in Canada, it also went to Number One on the Billboard charts, and the album sold a record 1,000,000 copies in Canada (receiving diamond status). It sold over 600,000 copies in the US, and eventually sold over six million the world over, something no other debut by a Canadian artist had ever done. She won three Junos and a Grammy for Best Rock Female Vocal.

Myles recruited veteran Canadian musicians Steve Webster (bass), Jorn Anderson (drums) and Kurt Schefler (guitar) to be her band and hit the road, and hit the snags that have haunted her career all along:  a self-confessed confident woman, Myles was perceived by most of the media everywhere as being cocky, arrogant and a lot of trouble, a reputation that to this day haunts her every move. Still, the touring helped to sell the record and she got gigs with the likes of Robert Plant (with whom she also had a brief romantic liaison), Tina Turner and Simple Minds.

Riding high on the success of her first recorded effort, Myles went back into the studio with Ward and Tyson and tried to recreate the magic, but outside the studio things were starting to fall apart. Her manager at the time, Danny Goldberg, went to work at Atlantic Records and she felt that this might be a slight conflict of interest for all involved; mentioning this to the powers-that-were caused them to turn their backs on her, and the second album, Rockinghorse, fairly stiffed in the US (although going double platinum in Canada). At about this time Myles got a call from Miles Copeland, manager of the Police and Sting, and head guru at IRS Records. He had liked “Black Velvet” and wanted to get in touch with the artist who’d sung it, and by the time he contacted her she had no manager and virtually no label, so Copeland took on the management of her career himself.

Putting her into the studio with Pat Moran to produce material written by Myles, Ward and Tyson as well as some songs written by others, the end result was A-Lan-Nah, which Copeland convinced Atlantic to release in 1995. Release it they did but work it they did not, and when it only sold 160,000 copies worldwide, Copeland bought the masters back from Atlantic and signed Myles to a recording contract with his new label, Ark 21. Copeland gave Myles free reign over production for her next release, and 1997 saw Arival hit the stores and airwaves.

After an eight year songwriting hiatus Myles has re-emerged, energized, with a new album, and has chosen to call it Black Velvet in order to re-connect with her millions of fans. Black Velvet contains all brand new studio recordings along with “Black Velvet 2007”, a new recording with a contemporary arrangement of her classic hit. The album was co-produced by hotly touted Torontonian Mike Borkosky and mixed by renown producer Terry Brown.

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