Breakfast with Santa at McMenamins

Something About Annie

| November 1, 2011 | 0 Comments

Annie BanyLocal pop-country singer/songwriter Annie Bany is going places — the sort of places that many young women dream about, but few actually have a chance of visiting. She’s talented, smart, hardworking and has a sincere sweetness — all of which help keep her grounded, in spite of a very busy year. The 18-year-old graduated from Jesuit High School, released her first CD “Barefoot & Young” and has recently moved far from her Wilsonville home to Nashville, Tennessee, to attend college and be in closer proximity to her rising-star dreams.

Though Annie spent months working on “Barefoot & Young,” she’s been engaged with performance since she was a young girl. Early dreams of stardom were to be on a Broadway stage performing. Once she held a guitar though, her fate soon changed. Annie is influenced by other crossover performers such as Taylor Swift, Dixie Chicks and Rascal Flats.

She’s been extremely fortunate to have the guidance and support of Rob Shrock, who produced her CD, who is the longtime music director for legendary composer Burt Bacharach and also the keyboardist for pop diva Dionne Warwick. Shrock has given her exposure to quality musicians and engineers, and invaluable firsthand insights about thriving in a difficult industry. Annie’s family — including her parents and older sister — have also been incredibly supportive and involved with her career.

Before Annie left for Nashville, we chatted about music, the importance of family and the winding road to stardom …

Janna: How did you know music was your path?

Annie: I didn’t go into high school thinking I wanted to do a CD. I grew up in musical theater. If asked during my freshman year, I probably would have said ‘I’m going to Broadway’ or ‘I’m going to be in movies.’ I always liked to act. Though I did theater, it was the music side of it that I was really into. I found that if I wasn’t performing or singing, I wasn’t happy. I love to sing. I love to write.

J: So it was good for you to figure out what worked and what didn’t?

A: It was. I met a voice teacher who wrote her own music and I was like, ‘That is so cool!’ I always wanted to write and I wanted to sing. I didn’t have anybody to teach me. Once I found her, I wrote my first song and fell in love with it.

J: Was your family encouraging from the beginning?

A: Definitely. They always listened to my first songs. They are the people I go to for input.

J: Do they give you honest feedback?

A: My dad is pretty good at that. {laughs} Not in a bad way …he’ll let me know which parts he likes and which ones he doesn’t. My family has always been really, really supportive, even with feedback. And though I changed my mind from being a Broadway actress to being a recording artist, they always remind me that it’s fine to do whatever I choose, just as long as I’m happy and I work hard.

J: They were all there at your CD release party at the Hawthorne Theater, which was an amazing event! You performed the whole “Barefoot & Young” album. Did it make you nervous or comfort you to perform for all your friends and family, and share what you’ve work so hard for?

A: At first, I’m always really nervous to go out and perform when I know people in the audience. Once I get out there, see them and recognize the faces in the audience, I’m always touched that they came to see me. It’s comforting and I look forward to after the show, too, because I like to hear what people think of the performance or what their favorite songs were.

J: It will be quite different to be away from that support while you’re in Nashville.

A: It will. I’m gone the whole year. I’ll be back in Wilsonville for Christmas. My major is music business now but I know from my sister who’s in college that a major can change. Hopefully I’ll stick with it. I’ll miss a lot of people from home but I also know that if I stayed here I would have always wondered what it would have been like if I’d gone to Nashville. Regret is always worse when you pass by an opportunity.

J: What will you miss about Portland?

A: Not the rainy weather! {laughter} I’ll miss my family, of course. I’ll miss being able to go outside and have the fresh air, or go to the mountains, or the beach, or hiking all within a quick driving distance. I really like our downtown, too. The stores downtown are awesome, very eclectic and I love them. But I was really surprised to see how clean Nashville is, too. There are tons of people into music there, so it’s very competitive, but people are also really supportive.

J: Who do you listen to these days? In there anyone in music who impresses you?

A: I love Taylor Swift, and I see why she’s so successful. She markets herself well and is a great songwriter. I just bought Colbie Caillat’s new album, which is really good. I like her because she makes me happy. When I listen to her it feels like I’m on a beach even if I’m in Portland. {laughs}

J: Do you ever consider what the effect of fame could mean in your life? For some, it’s too much to handle, especially when they’re young.

A: I think you get out of it what your attitude is. I’ve gone up to some celebrities and asked ‘Hey, can I get a picture with you?’ and they reply ‘Honey, I’m on holiday, ask me tomorrow.’ I think the attitude sets a precedent in what people think. If you’re famous, go to your favorite restaurant and think you’re not going to be recognized or bothered, then something isn’t right with the expectations of being famous.

J: For some, success or fame doesn’t affect them. But it seems one would have to have a strong sense of self to begin with. Also, with media — YouTube, cameras and phone video recorders — being everywhere now, there are other things to consider that wouldn’t have been factors 10 years ago. Celebrities can’t have bad days or leave the house in their pajamas … fame requires a higher level of professionalism.

A: Yes, definitely. I’m aware of that. On the flip side, you also get that great public feedback. You get instant access to people telling you they like what you’ve written and it validates that I’m doing the right thing. Of course, there’s the magic of performing …

J: Nothing compares to pursuing your passion.

A: Yes, definitely.

J: Do you have any aspirations for someday maybe cultivating or producing that passion in somebody else? Other singers and songwriters who are up and coming?

A: I think about that a lot. I don’t know where Portland will be in the next five years, but I think it would be cool to come back and produce people in Portland or start a new Nashville in Portland. There’s a lot of talent here.

J: Is there anything Portland needs to help it be a better place to not only attract, but keep talent?

A: I think we’re doing a lot right but I also think that schools need more music programs. There was a specific program I did in middle school, which if I’d never done, I don’t think I would have gotten into singing in front of people. I definitely think schools need to keep and expand music programs. Even though bands are great, like marching band or school band, they need to branch out and do rock stuff or more jazz. I’d also like to see more songwriting in school. People who are good creative writers would love to write or learn to write songs.

J: Wave the magic wand. Five years from now, what would your life look like?

A: Five years from now I’ll be 23. My biggest dream is that I really want to tour. I’ve always loved to travel. I have a journal at home that has every little place I want to go and see. I want to tour in those places. I think it’s cool when people who live in a completely different country and have a completely different lifestyle can relate to your music. Hopefully that will happen to me.

by Janna Lopez

Tags: ,

Category: Arts and Culture, Interviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *