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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Meaghan Smith Hits the 'Peg - Junos' Best New Artist in Town June 9

Ok, you're in for a treat as Meaghan Smith, Halifax's young, retro-styled crooner comes to crush it at at the West End Cultural Centre in Winnipeg, June 9.

The London, Ontario native snagged "best new artist" at the Junos in March and "pop album of the year" at the East Coast Music Awards back in April.

Smith has launched a North-American tour to showcase what the National Post called her "swingy, nostalgia-tinged, soft-pop," and promote her album The Crickets Orchestra. She will hit the 'Peg a week after her Provo, Utah gig and before a string of Canadian and U.S. dates.

Career as animator
But, and here's the cool part of Smith's journey to rising star status, no one in North America would have ever heard her great pipes had it not been for a change of direction a few years ago. You see, Smith was set for a career in animation - and a promising one at that. She credits her family's modest budget for her love of illustration and music.

"We couldn’t afford cable, so to avoid doing homework, I occupied myself with other activities, like drawing and singing. And with three (mostly fuzzy) TV channels to choose from, I ended up watching a lot of animated movies and old musicals. Some of my favorites were Calamity Jane, My Fair Lady, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers."

You'll notice Smith's animation handiwork in some of her early videos, in her video biography, and by mousing over the banner on her website to conjure up what looks remarkably like a fluttering Twitter bird.

Eventually, Smith worked up the courage to put on "secret concerts for a few of my friends in the stairwell" of the animation building where she was studying. A sound engineer encouraged her to use the building's studios to record a demo and she began booking local gigs to gain confidence performing.

After graduating, Smith moved to Halifax, and worked for four years to raise $30,000 to cut a CD. She then spent two months on the streets of Toronto living on home-made vegetable soup and sleeping at Tim Horton's.

Finally, recognition
Smith's Omnichord-based remake of the Pixie's Here Comes Your Man for the soundtrack of the movie 500 Days of Summer got her the first big accolades and gave her some solid momentum.

She's still nowhere near a household name, but her recent awards are the foot in the door to North American consciousness. And with her clever writing, throwback rhythms, some stronger branding, and a few good tours, let's hope the Mormon girl with the velvet vocals can establish a big career for herself.

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