Allison Crowe, Canadian musician, attends "Man of Steel" World Premiere, NYC
|Birth name||Allison Louise Crowe|
November 16, 1981 |
Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada
|Genres||Rock, pop, folk, jazz, alternative, Broadway showtunes|
|Instruments||Vocals, piano, guitar|
|Labels||Rubenesque Records Ltd.|
Allison Louise Crowe (born November 16, 1981) is a Canadian singer, songwriter, guitarist and pianist from Nanaimo, British Columbia who lives in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and Labrador, communities spanning the breadth of Canada.
Allison Crowe began performing professionally in 1996, at age 15, doing regular sets in the coffee-houses and bars of Vancouver Island. Crowe's recording debut came in 2001, with an EP subsequently reissued (in 2003) as Lisa's Song + 6 Songs. Her first full-length albums, Secrets and Tidings, were released in 2004, when Crowe was 22. (Tidings was originally released in EP form in 2003.) Allison Crowe: Live at Wood Hall, a double concert album, was released in July 2005. A DVD featuring live-in-the-studio performances of Tidings songs was created for her fan club in November 2005.
Crowe, of Scottish, Irish, and Manx descent, grew up surrounded by jazz, classical and rock music, and discovered additional influences on her own such as Ani DiFranco, Pearl Jam, Tori Amos and Counting Crows. She plays music of all these genres, making her difficult to categorize: in Amazon.com's downloads, she has simultaneously been in the top three on the Rock Singer-Songwriters, Hymns, Blues, Jazz, Broadway and British & Celtic Folk charts. "Drawing from classical, jazz, pop and gospel sources, the young singer has created singular, inspiring music both in the studio and in the concert hall." (Joseph Blake, Victoria Times Colonist, March 24, 2005).
Crowe's most mentioned characteristics are her remarkable live performance ability and her distinctive voice, the natural force of which has been compared to that of Mahalia Jackson. "With the soul of Janis Joplin and the tenderness of fellow Canuck Sarah McLachlan, Crowe rocks with her own unique brand of roots charm." (David McPherson, Exclaim!, October 5, 2004). She accompanies herself on guitar and the piano, on which she has been classically trained. Her physical, percussive, piano style has been likened to that of R&B and rock and roll pioneers such as Fats Domino. She is largely a solo performer, though she has been part of bands as well, notably in a trio format as the Allison Crowe Band (2000 to 2003). Her passionate, visceral style has been referred to as "Elton John meets Édith Piaf" (Clodagh O'Connell, Vancouver Courier, May 23, 2001).
Crowe mostly performs her own songs, which she has been quoted as saying vary among rock, jazz and folk, with lyrics and an intensity that has been compared to that of Laura Nyro, Eddie Vedder, Tori Amos and Patti Smith. "Ever wonder what it would have been like to listen to a gifted singer/songwriter from Saskatchewan in a small, intimate hall before she became Joni Mitchell? Don't fret the missed opportunity. There's no need to turn back the clock. Check out Allison Crowe," says Robert Reid in The Record.
"Whether I'm Wrong", an original song of social conscience penned in early 2003, has been featured by the UNESCO-endorsed New Songs for Peace initiative. Crowe is also acclaimed for her interpretations of songs by a wide variety of composers, from Jerome Kern to Pearl Jam, including Lennon–McCartney and fellow Canadians Joni Mitchell and Leonard Cohen. Her cover of Cohen's "Hallelujah" was named Record of the Week by Record of the Day (UK) in August 2004 and again in November 2005.
Touring and Recording Activities
Allison Crowe has toured across Canada and in the northeastern United States as headliner. Two one-hour television specials have been broadcast across Canada, with her Allison Crowe: Tidings special telecast each December since 2003.
In the Spring of 2006, Allison Crowe toured coast-to-coast in her homeland, covering most of the distance by Via Rail Canada train on the Rock'n'Rail Revue.
In October 2006, Allison Crowe released a new album, This Little Bird, which she began recording in February 2006 in her new home of Corner Brook. The album was completed some 6000 kilometres west, on Vancouver Island, and Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.
Following the release of This Little Bird, Allison Crowe visited England, Ireland, and Scotland on a concert tour. In 2007 Crowe's touring included a series of concerts across North America and a return to Europe where she performed to great acclaim at the John Lennon Northern Lights Festival in Durness, Scotland performing on a bill with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, the Queen's Master of Music, and Carol Ann Duffy, Britain's Poet Laureate. The event was subsequently crowned the "UK's Best New Festival".
Piano, guitar and lead vocal tracks for two albums were recorded by Allison Crowe throughout 2007 and early 2008. One release, with the working title of Aquarius Rising, is anticipated to include expanded instrumentation and orchestration. In May 2008 Crowe released an eclectic, acoustic, song collection called Little Light.
In May 2009 she was prevented from performing in Edinburgh, Scotland and London, England after being turned away by UK Border Agency officials at Gatwick Airport for not having a "Certificate of Sponsorship". This requirement of a controversial new "anti-terrorism" and "illegal immigration" policy in the UK is not shared by countries of continental Europe and Crowe's tour with her band resumed days later in Germany. In response to widespread calls for reform, effective April 6, 2012 the UK government implemented a new route, called "Permitted Paid Engagements", which does away with a range of the controversial requirements and fees for artists and academics visiting the UK for under one month. In enacting this new legislation, Immigration Minister Damian Green stated: “We do not want to be discouraging world-class performers from coming [to the UK]. I am aware that this has been a sore point for some time and we are taking action".
Crowe's touring band, her first since 2003, comprises Billie Woods on guitar, Dave Baird on bass, and Laurent Boucher on percussion. This quartet has toured Canada's Pacific and Atlantic coasts, as well as continental Europe.
Following a string of successful concert performances in Germany, the Czech Republic, and Austria, Allison Crowe returned home to Canada and during the Summer of 2009 selected songs for a new album to be titled Spiral. Some of this collection comprises never-heard songs from Aquarius Rising (those for which orchestration was not found in 2007), along with new originals and cover songs. The resulting album Spiral was released March 17, 2010.
In July 2011 Allison Crowe released a double-A-side single, featuring two songs: Arthur, a piano original; and Up to the Mountain (MLK Song), a guitar version of the Patty Griffin song. In December 2011, a holiday season concert in Vancouver was recorded before an audience that included cast and crew of a major Hollywood movie production, Man of Steel, then disguised under the working title of Autumn Frost.
In early 2012, Crowe reported her focus included two projects due for release in 2012/13: a ballet production, and a major motion picture.
In May 2012 Allison Crowe performed Hallelujah live on-stage with Canada's Royal Winnipeg Ballet (RWB) for the World Premiere of "The Doorway – Scenes from Leonard Cohen" – created and choreographed by Jorden Morris with artistic direction from the RWB 's André Lewis. On the RWB 's November 2012 tour of "The Doorway", Crowe again performed on stage with the ballet company for Hallelujah along with Sisters of Mercy and Bird on the Wire.
Following a concert tour with dates in Belgium, Germany, and Italy, on November 25, 2012 Allison Crowe released a live album, Tidings Concert – documenting an entire Tidings show in Vancouver, Canada.
Newfoundland Vinyl, a collection of songs from, or made popular in Newfoundland and Labrador, performed, engineered, and produced by Crowe was released as a vinyl LP and in digital formats by Rubenesque Records on June 25, 2013. The album's songs were selected by Crowe from the stage-show of the same name presented by "Theatre Newfoundland and Labrador" at the "Gros Morne Theatre Festival".
Allison Crowe released an album of new songs titled Heavy Graces on October 15, 2013.
Songbook, a 22-track, career-spanning collection, (which received special-edition, limited release on June 14, 2013), was released globally on March 17, 2014.
During September 2014 the musician released a series of music-movie mashups collectively titled 16 Songs.
Souling, an album of traditional carols performed a cappella by Allison Crowe, was released on November 2, 2014.
On December 2, 2014, Crowe's Newfoundland Vinyl II album was released. As with the first volume of this title, curated from a theatre production for which the artist serves as Musical Director, this collection features songs created in Newfoundland and Labrador along with several folk songs that have traveled to Atlantic Canada from overseas.
Sylvan Hour is released on May 5, 2015. This album comprises songs recorded, solo, by Allison Crowe in a log-home located on Salt Spring Island, Canada. The thirteen tracks mix piano and guitar with vocals.
In Summer 2015 Allison Crowe formed a touring band which features: Billie Woods (guitar, vocals); Celine Greb (cello, vocals); and Dave Baird (bass). Following concerts in western Canada, the group has announced dates for a European tour in 2016. A band recording project is slated for Winter 2015.
After learning how the mainstream recording industry operates, inspired by the examples of Ani DiFranco and Loreena McKennitt, and Creative Commons licensing opening new avenues for musicians, Allison Crowe launched her own record label, Rubenesque Records Ltd. The label was incorporated in 2001 and began operations with the release of an EP in 2003. She has created and released the following albums independently.
- Lisa's Song + 6 Songs (2003) EP; earlier versions were 6 Songs and 6 Songs +
- Tidings: 6 Songs for the Season (2003) EP
- Secrets (2004) singer-songwriter solo debut
- Tidings (2004) a greatly expanded version of Tidings: 6 Songs for the Season
- Allison Crowe:Live at Wood Hall (2005) double concert album
- This Little Bird (2006) full-length album with band
- Little Light (2008) solo, acoustic, album
- Spiral (2010) full band album, with orchestration
- Tidings Concert (2012) twenty song-tracks captured live
- Newfoundland Vinyl (2013) ten song album released in vinyl LP format
- Heavy Graces (2013) solo song recordings on piano and guitar
- Songbook (2013/14) twenty-two song oeuvre-spanning set of solo and band recordings
- Souling (2014) ten traditional carols arranged and performed a cappella
- Newfoundland Vinyl II (2014) a collection of songs of Newfoundland and Labrador and British Isles folk music
- Sylvan Hour (2015) folk/rock album recorded in log-home in Canada
- Arthur / Up to the Mountain (2011) double-A-side single
- Snow (2013) single
- Tarry Trousers (2014) single
- Open Minds Open Windows: Songwriter's Stories (2003) West coast Canadian musicians
- It Was 40 Years Ago Today (2004) indie, punk, alternative tribute to The Beatles
- Christmas in Rock Vol. 4 (2005) German release of Christmas songs
- Cohen Covered (2008) Mojo (magazine) tribute compilation
- Songs of Hope for Haiti (2010) benefit compilation incl. Crowe's previously unreleased song Aquarius Rising
- Inside Pandora's Box: Allison Crowe (2002) – one-hour television broadcast in Canada
- Allison Crowe: Tidings (2003) – one-hour television broadcast annually in Canada
- Tidings (2005) – DVD fan-club-only release
- A Corner Brook Tidings (2012) – one-hour documentary film and television special directed by Peter Buckle
Acclaimed as a songwriter and live performer, Allison Crowe's reputation and audience worldwide is also based significantly on her intrerpretations of songs in the popular music canon alongside classical and traditional works, and songs from musical theatre, especially Broadway.
This unique aspect of Crowe's artistry, combining original material with a range of covers to equal praise and draw, has been commented upon extensively in print and broadcast media, including a November 2008 BBC radio documentary, "The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor Fall". Her interpretations of Leonard Cohen songs have received particular recognition in features by BBC Radio and MOJO magazine. Crowe's single/first take recording of Hallelujah was slated to be the soundtrack to a scene in the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster Watchmen, before being replaced by a Cohen recording. "I originally had a different version of 'Hallelujah' on that scene (involving Nite Owl and Silk Spectre II) – it was the version by Allison Crowe, and it was really beautiful. Too beautiful, as it turned out..." explains the movie's Director Zack Snyder. In another interview, Snyder explained that Crowe's recording is "too romantic" and "too sexy" for the scene which is meant to come across as ironic and "ridiculous". Crowe would later appear in Snyder's 2013 film Man of Steel where she can be seen performing Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire at "Cassidy's" road-house.
In 2012, Crowe's recording of Hallelujah was chosen as soundtrack for the movie trailer to The Pardon, a film based on the true life story of Toni Jo Henry, the only woman to be electrocuted by Louisiana. This film, slated for release in 2013, stars Jaime King in the lead role with John Hawkes playing her partner-in-crime.
Some of the most artistically and commercially successful cover songs in Crowe's recorded and published repertoire include:
- A Case of You – Joni Mitchell
- A Murder of One – Counting Crows
- Angel – Sarah McLachlan
- Believe Me If All (Those Endearing Young Charms) – traditional Irish Aire (words by Sir Thomas Moore)
- Bill – Jerome Kern, P.G. Wodehouse & Oscar Hammerstein II (from Show Boat)
- Creep – Radiohead
- Darling Be Home Soon – The Lovin' Spoonful
- Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
- I Dreamed a Dream – Alain Boublil & Claude-Michel Schönberg (from Les Misérables)
- Independence Day – Ani DiFranco
- Indifference – Pearl Jam
- I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You) – Ronnie Shannon (popularized by Aretha Franklin)
- In Love in Vain – Jerome Kern & Leo Robin
- Imagine – John Lennon
- In My Life – The Beatles
- Joan of Arc – Leonard Cohen
- Let It Be – The Beatles
- Me and Bobby McGee – Fred Foster & Kris Kristofferson (popularized by Janis Joplin)
- Playboy Mommy – Tori Amos
- Raining in Baltimore – Counting Crows
- Release – Pearl Jam
- River – Joni Mitchell
- Running for Home – Matthew Good, Dave Genn
- Shine a Light – The Rolling Stones
- Smells Like Teen Spirit – Nirvana
- Sweet Dreams – Eurythmics
- 32 Flavors – Ani DiFranco
- Time After Time – Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman
- Throw Your Arms Around Me – Hunters and Collectors
- Up to the Mountain – Patty Griffin
- When I'm Gone – Phil Ochs
- Who Will Save Your Soul – Jewel
In addition to these prominent examples of studio and live tracks there are numerous other cover songs which have been performed by Allison Crowe. Only those interpretations which have been officially released on recordings are noted here.
- "Canadian Music Rocks the Global Stage", The Epoch Times, August 13, 2013.
- "Artist Spotlight: Allison Crowe". New Songs for Peace. March 2004.
- "Canadian singer kicked out of U.K. under new rules". CBC News. May 25, 2009.
- "Victory for Visiting Artists Campaign!". Manifesto Club. February 29, 2012.
- "Leonard Cohen's music comes to life at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet", CBC News, May 9, 2012. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
- "RWB technique, emotion dazzle in Halifax return", Chronicle Herald, November 8, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- "A royal treat", The Guardian, November 16, 2012.
- "Canadian singer-songwriter Allison Crowe on appearing in Man of Steel", CBC Radio-Canada, June 25, 2013.
- The Fourth, The Fifth, The Minor Fall, BBC, November 1, 2008
- Interview: Zack Snyder of Watchmen, The Phoenix, retrieved 2009-03-04
- Crave Online: Zack Snyder Talks Watchmen, retrieved 2009-03-02
- "'Man Of Steel': Canadian Allison Crowe Sings 'Ring Of Fire' Onscreen In Superman Film", The Huffington Post, June 18, 2013.
- Allison Crowe home site
- Allison Crowe Music site
- Allison Crowe's channel on YouTube
- Allison Crowe facebook Artist Page
- Allison Crowe on IMDb
- Allison Crowe official UK site
- Allison Crowe at Pandora
- The Pardon movie trailer (2012)
- Allison Crowe @ Last.fm
- Podsafe Music Network
- Allison Crowe discography at MusicBrainz
- Allison Crowe on Muruch
- The Ruckus – Audio Interview with Allison Crowe from October 2008