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  • Writer's pictureStevie Connor

Award-Winning Canadian All Female Soul-Roots Group, AV & The Inner City Release First Single of 2024, 'Low & Lowly'

Established in Edmonton's inner city neighbourhood of McCauley, AV & The Inner City is a recently formed, all-female Soul/Roots vocal group, originating from the weekly collaborative porch concerts put on during the pandemic by multi-award winning local artist AV (Ann Vriend).

In a testament to their incredible talent the diverse group of Edmontonian singers brought home their very first award while touring Western Canada in the Summer 2023: the Edmonton Folk Music Festival's "Emerging Artist Award", before having released any of their own music. The Soul infused vocal group is comprised of JUNO-nominated Indigenous vocalist Debbie Houle; Jazz singer Johwanna Alleyne; Pop/R&B band "Mercy Funk" lead singer Crystal Eyo; Czech Republic songwriter Alenka Lundell; and multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Jenn Dahlen; and is led by celebrated Edmonton artist AV.

Legendary concert promoter Vic Bell calls the group "an act that could have closed the Main Stage any night of the festival. They earned a full house, standing ovation." AV & The Inner City's sound is as harmonious as the creation of the group itself, and embraces the cultural diversity and wide ranging musical backgrounds of each of its members. The group released their first single in the Fall of 2023 as a feature on band leader AV's song, "Nobody Is You", and have since been in the studio recording their debut album. AV & The Inner City has just released their first non-feature single, "Low & Lowly", a hymn-like, non-religious Soul/Roots single about accepting, celebrating, and grieving the ups and downs of life.

Written by AV and Dave MacEathron (David Francey, Justin Rutledge), the unadorned recording of "Low & Lowly" features merely the vocalists in the band and the piano, performed by AV. The song was recorded at Riverdale Recorders in Edmonton, AB, right around the corner from AV's front porch where it all began.

Inspired by the rich vocal harmonies of the Gospel tradition, "Low & Lowly" is a soulful and secular hymn-style song, featuring incredible harmonies, soaring vocals, and a universal message. This touching and somber song explores the idea of embracing both the good and the bad in life. "Low & Lowly" acknowledges that life's journey involves both hardship and pain, as well as moments of happiness and beauty. The track, performed with just a piano and vocals, begins with AV's voice accompanied by blues-infused, straightforward piano chords. It gradually builds into a soul-stirring, full-bodied song, showcasing the powerful performance of The Inner City. Despite its simplicity, "Low & Lowly" captivates listeners with the intensity of a full band and chorus, featuring only six vocalists.

Recorded with just one microphone, the organic recording process lends a nearly tangible vocal authenticity to the track, reminiscent of the awe-inspiring experience of sitting in front of a 50-person choir. While the song's universal nature makes it accessible to a broad audience, its personal and relatable lyrics make "Low & Lowly" a gripping musical experience. It serves as a reminder for listeners to embrace both the positive and negative aspects of life.

“Low & Lowly” is a hymn-like gospel sounding song, though the lyrics are not religious. It is about the humble and sober realization that there is pain in life - as well as celebration, and everything in between— and that all can be sung about". - AV & The Inner City


Sunday, February 18 2024 - Ottawa, ON - Red Bird Live - Tickets (AV and Curtis Chaffey)

Saturday, February 24 2024 - St. Catharines, ON - Vineland Estates Winery - Tickets (AV Solo)

Friday, March 22 2024 - Edmonton, AB - New Moon Folk Club - Tickets

Saturday, November 23 2024 - Calgary, AB - The Nickelodeon Music Club - Tickets

Saturday, January 25 2025 - Red Deer, AB - On The Edge Concert Series

Summer Festival Dates To Be Announced

"AV & the Inner City" is a soul/roots group which formed during the course of the COVID19 pandemic in the inner city of Edmonton, Canada. Only two years old, the group has just completed their first summer tour, which included the Vancouver Island Music Festival, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, and most recently, the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, at which they received an "Emerging Artist Award" based on their performance.

AV & the Inner City is made up of 6 singers: band leader and multi award-winning singer-songwriter AV (Ann Vriend), Debbie Houle (co-founder of the Juno-nominated Indigenous vocal group “Asani”), jazz radio host, jazz singer, and professional pickle company owner Johwanna Alleyne (company: Mojo Jojo Pickles and Preserves); Crystal Eyo, a communications business owner and lead singer and songwriter of Edmonton pop/RnB band “Mercy Funk”, ESL teacher Alenka Lundell, who fronted and wrote songs for bands in her home country of Czech (formerly Czechoslovakia); and Jenn Dahlen, a guitar player, singer, and clarinetist, who also has sung background vocals for American singer-songwriter Jennifer Berezan.

From April 2020 until October 2021, on every Sunday that the pandemic restrictions and weather would allow AV hosted and performed nearly 60 free concerts on her front porch in the inner city neighbourhood of McCauley, often with guests, including the 6 above mentioned singers. The “porch concerts” often also featured other acts and bands who came from all parts of Edmonton, and though informal in nature, the "porch concerts" were a much needed life-line of music and social interaction for both performers and audience members alike. In the early summer of 2021, the vocalists became an official, rehearsed act; performing AV's original songs with a cover song or two thrown in for good measure, and 3 part harmony soul/gospel style arrangements based around her voice and keyboard playing. The group is now working on their first body of recordings, and released their very first single, "Nobody Is You" featuring the Inner City," in September 2023, with their first of many full releases as a band scheduled for February 2024.



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