Emm Gryner

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Emm Gryner
Emm Gryner at Sarnia Library Theatre, 2010
Emm Gryner at Sarnia Library Theatre, 2010
Background information
Born (1975-06-08) 8 June 1975 (age 46)
Sarnia, Ontario, Canada
OriginToronto, Ontario, Canada
GenresPop music, alternative rock
InstrumentsVocals, bass guitar, guitar, keyboard instruments
LabelsDead Daisy, Mercury

Emm Gryner (born 8 June 1975 in Sarnia, Ontario)[1][2][3] is a Canadian-Filipino singer, songwriter, recording artist, and author. She has released 20 albums as a solo performer, and has collaborated with artists including David Bowie and Chris Hadfield.

Early life[edit]

Gryner's childhood was spent in Forest, Ontario. Her father was of half Irish heritage[4] and her mother was Filipina.[5] She started to learn piano at age 4, picked up bass around age 14, and later took up guitar as well.[1]

Gryner attended North Lambton Secondary School in Forest, Ontario. Following high school, she graduated from Fanshawe College's Music Industry Arts program in 1995.[6]

Gryner has two brothers, Tony and record producer and musician Frank.


Gryner started her music career in Toronto, where her original song "Wisdom Bus" won a nationwide songwriting contest sponsored by Standard Broadcasting. With the prize money, she recorded an album called The Original Leap Year and released it on her own Dead Daisy Records. The album attracted the attention of Mercury Records, who signed Gryner to a recording contract.

Gryner's first release on Mercury was 1998's Public, a Britpop-inspired album that yielded a Canadian hit called "Summerlong." She was nominated for the Best New Solo Artist Juno Award in 1999.

Bowie Band[edit]

Also in 1999, Gryner was asked to join David Bowie’s band[7] as a backup singer and keyboard player. The gig saw Gryner performing with Bowie at Glastonbury Festival, on Later with Jools Holland, Saturday Night Live, and other venues around America and Europe. She appears on the live albums Glastonbury 2000 and Bowie at the Beeb, as well as Toy.

Solo career[edit]

After Universal Music took over Mercury Records, Gryner returned to her Dead Daisy Records label,[8] releasing several albums, including Girl Versions and Asianblue, which were both nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the Juno Awards.[9]

Gryner released Songs of Love and Death, an album of cover versions of Irish songs, in 2005. The album attracted the attention of Irish media,[10] and Gryner appeared on programs like The Late Late Show[11] during her subsequent tour of Ireland.

Between 2006 and 2020 Gryner released 11 albums, 4 EPs, and a "Best of" compilation with two unreleased tracks. The Summer of High Hopes, produced by Nathan Larson, was released in Canada and later in Ireland on the heels of a performance at Oxegen Festival; The Irish Times' Siobhàn Long said it was "the distilled voice of an original".[12] In the November 2006 issue of Q, U2 frontman Bono recognized the track "Almighty Love" as one of six songs that he wished he had written from the last twenty years of music.[13]

Her 2014 album Torrential was called "superb pop" by The Irish Times' Tony Clayton-Lea.[14]

During the COVID-19 pandemic Gryner released the singles "Stronger Someone", in support of Bluewater Health Foundation,[15] and "All Love All The Time" with Rob Wells, as well as the album Just For You, a collection of jazz standards.[16]

Space Oddity in space[edit]

In May 2013, Gryner arranged and performed piano on astronaut Chris Hadfield's cover version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity".[17] The music video for the song features Hadfield on the International Space Station and is considered the first ever filmed in space.[18]

Fanshawe College presents an annual Emm Gryner and Chris Hadfield Music Industry Arts Award to a Year 2 student in the School of Contemporary Media who demonstrates "a keen interest [...] in the creative and technical aspects of the music industry [and] leadership characteristics with respect to his or her classmates, faculty and staff, as well as exceptional creativity and dedication".[19]

Other collaborations[edit]

Gryner collaborated with Larson in the band Hot One and appeared on the group's self-titled album in 2006.

She is also a member of the collective The Cake Sale, along with Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol, Bell X1, Josh Ritter and Glen Hansard. The collective is featured on The Cake Sale, a multi-platinum-selling Irish album with proceeds to Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair.

In 2011 Gryner formed Trent Severn with Dayna Manning and Laura C. Bates. Their debut self-titled album was released on Gryner's Dead Daisy Records label in 2012, followed by Trillium (2015) and Portage (2017).

In 2014, Gryner assembled the band Trapper with Sean Kelly (on guitar), brother Frank Gryner (on guitar), Jordan Kern (on bass) and Tim Timleck (ex-Universal Honey on drums),[20] playing "1980s-style melodic hard rock."[21] In May 2015, Trapper opened for Brit-rockers Def Leppard on 3 Canadian tour dates in Montréal, Ottawa and London, Ontario.[22] Gryner had met and become friends with Def Leppard lead singer Joe Elliott when she toured as a backing singer with David Bowie.[23]

Other work[edit]

In 2008 Gryner acted and sang in One Week, a film by director Michael McGowan. In the film she sings Un Canadien errant; she also contributed her song "Blackwinged Bird" to the soundtrack.[24]

In the summers of 2007 and 2008, Gryner and Danny Michel co-hosted Under the Covers, a radio show about cover songs, on CBC Radio One.

In October 2016 Gryner starred in Joni Mitchell: River at the Grand Theatre in London, Ontario along with Louise Pitre and Brendan Wall.[25] The play and performers met with positive reviews: in the London Free Press Joe Belanger commented that "her vocal range, the emotional qualities of her voice and its sound [are] like a touchstone to Mitchell throughout,"[26] and Mary Alderson wrote that "she is stunning in her a capella numbers."[27]

In September 2021 ECW Press released Gryner's book The Healing Power of Singing: Raise Your Voice, Change Your Life (What Touring with David Bowie, Single Parenting and Ditching the Music Business Taught Me in 25 Easy Steps),[28] described as "part study in the art of singing, part guide to finding one's voice, and part memoir."[29] The book became an Amazon bestseller in 2022.[30]

Dead Daisy Records[edit]

Gryner's label, Dead Daisy Records, also released the debut records for Atlantic Canadian indie band In-Flight Safety, Daniel Ledwell, Andrew Spice, Cicero, and Toronto songwriter Royal Wood.



  1. ^ a b "Emm Gryner / The Queen of Toronto". TheGATE.ca. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  2. ^ "Mayor's Honour List 2004" (PDF). City of Sarnia. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 November 2007. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  3. ^ "Gryner, Emm". Jam!/Canoe. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  4. ^ Tandem – Online magazine Archived 4 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Griwkowsky, Fish (25 October 2002). "Life couldn't be finer for Emm Gryner". Jam!/Canoe. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  6. ^ "Emmbassy". Emmgryner.com. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  7. ^ "Live Reviews: Ron Sexsmith with Emm Gryner November 17, 1999 Trinity-St. Paul's Centre, Toronto, ON". Chart Attack, review by Chris Burland
  8. ^ "HOW STRANGE THE CHANGE FROM MAJOR TO MINOR". Chart Attack, Interview By John Teshima
  9. ^ "Emm Gryner | The JUNO Awards". Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  10. ^ "COVER ME, LEAVE ME BREATHLESS". 18 November 2005. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  11. ^ "Emm Gryner - Almighty Love - Irish TV March 2007". 30 March 2007. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  12. ^ "POP/ROCK". 12 May 2006. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  13. ^ The GATE – Emm Gryner gets a little love from U2's Bono Archived 4 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Emm Gryner: Torrential". 16 May 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Emm Gryner says 'thank you' to hometown Sarnia hospital and staff". theobserver.ca. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  16. ^ "Emm Gryner's jazz album was decades in the making | The Sarnia Observer". 5 November 2020. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  17. ^ "Gryner, Hadfield really make the grade | The London Free Press". Lfpress.com. 14 May 2013. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  18. ^ "First music video filmed in space | Guinness World Records".
  19. ^ "The Emm Gryner and Chris Hadfield Music Industry Arts Award - Fanshawe College". Retrieved 15 April 2022.
  20. ^ "@TrapperRocks". Twitter. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Trapper - Discography". Discogs. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  22. ^ "Trapper featuring Sean Kelly to open for Def Leppard". Brave Words. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  23. ^ "Def Leppard Tour History". DefLeppardUK.com. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  24. ^ "One Week (2008) - Soundtracks - IMDb". Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  25. ^ "Joni Mitchell: River debuts at the Grand Theatre | 106.9 The X". 18 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  26. ^ "Review: This River a journey of love and life's illusions | London Free Press". 21 October 2016. Retrieved 1 March 2022.
  27. ^ {{cite web|date=2016-10-22|title=Theatre in London » Archive » Joni Mitchell: River|url=https://theatreinlondon.ca/2016/10/joni-mitchell-river-review/%7Caccess-date=2022-03-01%7C%7C
  28. ^ "Emm's book is out today! — Emm Gryner". 28 September 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  29. ^ "The Healing Power of Singing: Raise Your Voice, Change Your Life (What Touring with David Bowie, Single Parenting and Ditching the Music Business Taught Me in 25 Easy Steps)". 28 September 2021. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  30. ^ . 4 January 2022 https://twitter.com/emmgryner/status/1478526438240305152. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]