Not every young Canadian singer-songwriter gets to launch her CD with a live appearance on the US satellite station Sirius XM. The show was hosted by Dave Marsh, author of more than 25 books on rock and roll and known as the “dean of American rock writers” who admits to being her biggest fan.
But that’s how Ariana Gillis , from St. Catharines, Ontario — who turned 21 earlier this month — began to premiere her second album, Forget Me Not. Earlier, Marsh had played a track — “John and the Monster” — from an advance copy of the CD; one response was a phone call from an enthusiastic listener who wanted to know more about the unusual song, and the singer. The mystery caller was Elton John’s lyricist and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.
Later, he wrote to the young singer’s father, musician and producer David Gillis: “I’m staggered by how good she is. There is not much that impresses me these days but after hearing her available tracks I can honestly say she’s the single most exciting thing I’ve heard in a very long time.”
Forget Me Not, like her first CD, To Make It Make Sense, is a collection of Ariana’s original songs. “Original” not only indicates that she wrote or co-wrote all the songs, but that the subjects are unusual. Not many artists (regardless of their age) write songs about creatures in a lake with healing powers, people in adjacent graves chatting with each other, the annual slaughter of dolphins in a cove in Japan, or young sailors forced to walk the plank.
Chosen as Young Performer of the Year at the 2009 Canadian Folk Music Awards, she is fulfilling the promise many people have seen since she put out her first EP when she was 17.
written by Richard Flohil
"An insanely young and talented songwriter and singer, Gillis is just 21, but has already wowed everyone who has heard her, and continues to amaze on her new and second album...".
– Bob Mersereau, Veteran Canadian Broadcaster - CBC
"I'm staggered by how good she is. There is not much that impresses me these days but after hearing her available tracks I can honestly say she's the single
most exciting thing I've heard in a very long time."
– Bernie Taupin, Elton John's lyricist
Listen to what Bernie has to say.
"Ariana is two people in one. She’s a normal nice demure 21-year-old, but when she begins to sing her entire body is taken over by the most powerful force, and the songs become a lot more than just words or music…. her stage presence is the most visually grabbing I’ve ever seen. I was stunned at the intense connection between herself and what she was singing; I thought of the strength of character that embodied Janis Joplin’s performances.”
Steve Wozniak –Apple Computers co-founder
"A blast of energy and fearless confidence, Ariana Gillis sings and strums and stomps and leaves ripples behind her wherever she goes. With an impressive vocal range and a firm grasp on the craft of songwriting, Ariana is unstoppable. In 2009, she won the Canadian Folk Music Award for Young Performer of the Year and she has received multiple Niagara Music Awards. There is an intense, driving force behind her folk/pop sound, and a deeper story behind every song."
– Andy Frank, Roots Music Canada
"Ariana Gillis may be the best new emerging artist anywhere, PERIOD!"
– Dave Marsh, best selling author, former music critic of __Rolling Stone Magazine & Creem Magazine. +