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Take Five with Lynn Veronneau

Lynn Veronneau By

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Meet Lynn Veronneau: Quebec native Lynn Veronneau has been tearing through mid-Atlantic listening venues with her band, "Veronneau," like a force of nature with 50 shows in their first year, a new CD, and shows scheduled for the US, UK and Canada.

As a child in suburban Montreal (Sherbrooke), Veronneau was influenced by the world of Francophone music as well as the Beatles, and the big band jazz beloved by her father, a lifelong employee of the O'Keefe brewing company, and her mother, a social worker. The politically charged, musically accomplished work of proud Quebecois artists such as Les Seguin, Harmonium, and Beau Dommage left a strong artistic and intellectual impression on the young girl.

Veronneau completed an arts degree in 1986 at the University du Quebec at Montreal, then moved to France. By day she commuted to Switzerland to work for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and in her free time she deepened her commitment to music with classical voice studies and her first professional job, singing the role of Zerlina in a Swiss-French production of Mozart's Don Giovanni. After donning a bouffant hairdo and a puffy dress to sing lead in a doo-wop group. She fronted a progressive rock and a blues band; and performed extensively in an acoustic folk duo performing in many venues throughout Europe and North America.

Lynn turned toward jazz and began performing in a duo with British guitarist/vocalist Ken Avis, now her husband and one of the two guitarists of the band Veronneau.

Instrument(s): Vocals

Teachers and/or influences? My early influences remain empowering, as good music lives on. In the 60s I was deeply affected by the Beatles and French crooners Joe Dassin, Serge Lama, Charles Aznavour and Gilbert Becaud. Chansioniers like Jacques Brel and Charles Trenet and French divas like Dalida also had my ear, along with the big band jazz albums my dad popped onto the turntable. I loved it all.

In the 70's, Quebec experienced a cultural Renaissance. Musicians took the stage with socially and politically charged messages. A new generation brought in fresh and sophisticated sounds deeply rooted in tradition. Quebec was never so proud to be and separatist aspirations were growing. Musicians like Les Seguin, Harmonium, Serge Fiori and Beau Dommage were at the forefront. They had beautiful sophisticated voices and were accomplished instrumentalists and songwriters. It was such a contrast to the disco music that filled the airwaves at the time.

I secretly loved Donna Summer and became aware of Aretha Franklin and Motown at the same time. The voices and rhythm fascinated me. I also loved the progressive sound of Led Zeppelin, Genesis, Yes and Supertramp. The '70s gave me a sense that there were no musical boundaries. This notion defines what I do to this day.

In the 80s, I listened to everything around me, embracing the fun and playfulness. I loved the punk sound of The Clash, Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel, Philip Glass, the Eurhythmics and Laurie Anderson. Celine Dion was a dominant figure in Quebec. I was intrigued by her powerful voice. Still, I was a true 80s girl with Mohawk and ripped clothes—Quebec style.

After graduation from the University du Quebec at Montreal, I moved to France where I lived for eight years. I had a wonderful voice teacher. Claudia Barreau had a profound impact on me. She was an eccentric old lady who loved singers more than anything. Despite being twice retired from her teaching job at Switzerland's Geneva Conservatory and the Conservatoire de Ferney—Voltaire, in France (which she had founded). I studied Bel Canto with her for five years. With her I found a powerful melodic voice I had only suspected was there.

After that I just couldn't get enough of the big moving voices. I listened to Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, Annie Lennox, Bobby McFerrin, Bjork, Etta James, Eva Cassidy. All these singers shaped my sound and how the songs should be delivered—and showed me that genre doesn't matter as much as the songs do. For me it's all about the song.

I spent some years wrapped up in familial obligations and music took a back seat. We were putting two children through college and caring for our youngest as well. Then, a few years ago I met Alison Crockett, a beautiful jazz singer/pianist and educator, while attending the jazz camp at the Maryland Summer Jazz Festival. The workshops and Ms Crockett's private tutoring gave me the tools and confidence I needed to further my understanding of jazz and were a springboard into my current project and our new album, Joie de Vivre.

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