'A New Chapter Has Begun'
From the name of her indie label, Inspired Records, to her deeply introspective song lyrics and ongoing involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) and other charities, singer/songwriter Annette brings a deep sense of spirituality to her many musical and music-related endeavors.
That includes her ethereal, Enya-flavored twist on Bryan Adams’ classic power ballad “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” which was the #1 most added song its debut week (September 19, 2005) on Radio & Records’ Adult Contemporary chart and is currently building steam at radio.
A portion of the proceeds from her deeply introspective new album Growing Into Myself will also be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA), whose centennial celebration in 2004 launched a national campaign to encourage more adults to lend their time and talent to mentoring a single child in need of friendship and guidance.
Helping Annette realize her vision over the course of the collection’s 15 tracks — which includes two uplifting interludes entitled “You Can Be Anything” - is longtime collaborator Michael Kowal, Annette’s co-producer who also plays bass, guitar and piano. Kowal wrote or co-wrote (with Annette) all of the album’s original material, and provides an imaginative, seductive arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s soul-stirring “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away.”
Chatting recently with Annette, I first noted that as she mentioned within the albums title track the statement that “There are no mistakes in life,” if she truly held to this way of thinking? And if so, if they are not ‘mistakes’ that we make (and term therein), what are they? "Many people take my poetic license literally and that’s their choice. Every experience we have is an opportunity to grow. If we learn by our mistakes, what happens is that you don’t repeat the same mistake and suddenly your experience has given you more wisdom. And as a mother, I definitely guide my children on the righteous path. Then as they make their choices in life, I look at those choices they make as growing experiences."
Your album title suggests a person still finding out more about herself as the years go by. So, what has recently been one of the most revealing of these new finds? "The more I learn the less I know. Just when you think you have it right, that’s the paradox of life, because at that point you know the universe is going to send you another challenge or situation to live through. In order to gain wisdom I feel a need to approach each day with a humble attitude and open heart. This is such a real life theme to me that I have written a song titled “The Paradox Of Life".”
How much legal paperwork did you have to get through to be able to record the Bryan Adams song “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You”? "This is why I have a record company so I don’t have to deal with it. And I hope there were shades of pink in that red tape!"
Your bio states that you are a Michigan-based artist. So, as we are a Michigan-based Magazine, I was wondering just where in MI you were ‘based’ and what places people can see you perform in and around that area? "I am currently residing in Saline. Since I moved to Michigan, I have devoted my time to songwriting, studio recording and raising my children (one of the reasons I moved here). I have performed at special events through requests, mostly performing at charity events such as The University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Feed The Children, The Possible Dream Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America."
"I am looking forward to the up and coming Release Party (3/11/06) for Growing Into Myself at the Ritz Carlton Dearborn, which will kick off a series of performances at Border’s Books & Music Café and Wal-Mart Stores. The tour launches in Ann Arbor continuing regionally then nationally. I am eagerly awaiting this next chapter in my life."
Knowing that you are inspired on a daily basis, what has been one of your most memorable moments of inspiration – either musically or personally? "One thing that never ceases to inspire me both on a personal level and a professional one is that music is such a universal language. I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) in the local school system. Most of the children that I teach come into the school with a limited ability to speak our language. I have had to communicate with them through music. The most amazing thing is that they respond as though they understand the words. Time and time again this reiterates to me what I have always believed about music."
Out of the 15 songs on this new album which one truly stands out to be your go-to favorite when recommending it to first time listeners… and why? "There are really two – 'Growing Into Myself' and 'Ask' – because these two songs, as a whole, sum up my philosophy in life."
Before turning your attention to developing a solo career, you performed as a background vocalist for several entertainers. Who were the more notable ones and are there any funny stories attached to these past memories? "Many of the entertainers I performed with were well known regional artists. And actually, the funniest story that I ever remember is when I was not entertaining at all but being entertained. I went to a show at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Frankie Avalon was one of the headliners. He asked for a volunteer from the audience to join him on stage. I didn’t even raise my hand, but simply got onto the stage with him. You see I was young and unafraid with no thought of waiting to be picked. Frankie asked me my name and when I said “Annette” he looked me up and down, looked out at the audience and they roared with laughter."
"Frankie proceeded to ask me to do a song with him and instructed me to merely sing back to him the words he would sing. He began his rendition of “I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”. But I had my own plan and instead sang back to him the second verse. When I started to let it out with the power I have, Frankie handed me the microphone and replied, “Take it!” Everyone thought I was a plant. No doubt a memorable evening for all."
For fun, and taking the titles of a few of your album tracks, please let us know:
‘Ask’ – What do most people ask of you, whether it be professionally or personally? "The question I’m asked most on a daily basis from my husband is “Annette, have you seen my keys?”
‘Speed Of Light’ – Have you ever had a speeding ticket? "No, but I almost got ticketed for going too slow. I am not a party girl."
‘The Scenic Route’ – What journey has turned out to have provided you with the most scenic of trips? "When my daughters were younger we took a nature hike. The most beautiful thing was seeing nature through their eyes. This experience gave me a second chance to appreciate the look of nature through the eyes of innocence."
What ‘80s (and possible cheesy!) song would you love to cover today if asked… and why?! "As a songwriter I would take all these songs and with the titles make a ‘80s medley out of them: 'Too Hot' by Kool & The Gang, 'Whip It' by Devo, 'Hit Me With Your Best Shot' by Pat Benatar, 'Turning Japanese' by The Vapors, and 'Bette Davis Eyes' by Kim Carnes."
Lastly, I like Penguins… do you?! "Absolutely! I think 'March of the Penguins' should win Movie of the Year! By the way, I saw 'March of the Penguins' ten times!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
If you would like to win an AUTOGRAPHED copy of Annette's brand new CD, just answer this easy question: Annette is an Italian immigrant born in Rocca Bernarda, in the small town of where?
Send me your answers and if you're correct you'll be in the running to win one of these great new and AUTOGRAPHED CDs! Just send us an e:mail here before April 15th with your answer and the subject title 'ANNETTE SIGNED CDs' to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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