Stunning, charismatic, compelling - these are just a few words to describe the performances of singer/ songwriter Jana Keeley, who is about to release her debut album.
For the past couple of years, she has been playing highly regarded venues such as the Grand Forks Folk Festival, where her sincere lyricism and undeniable stage presence have earned her a reputation as a rising star. She has also been writing.
"It's been a long haul," she says. "But the album's almost finished. We're just working on the single now."
"We" is Keeley, a variety of skilled studio musicians, and noted producer Terry Jacks - who came out of retirement after discovering Keeley's talent. Jacks, who has produced many million-selling records for artists such as Nana Mouskouri, the Beach Boys, Chilliwack and his own group, the Poppy Family, was recently inducted into the Canadian Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. "Jana has all the ingredients to become a major recording artist," he said. "She writes haunting melodies wrapped around rich imagery and delivers her songs with an expressive softness that is completely her own. Her music is timeless." Although she attributes her influences to a wide range of artists, Keeley grew up listening to the likes of Emmy Lou Harris, Lacy J. Dalton and Linda Ronstadt, albums stolen from her mother's record collection. She eventually began writing music to reflect her personal experiences and observations.
"The first song I ever wrote was for a close family member who died," said Keeley. That piece, "A Song for Glen" was recorded as an EP and sold across Canada and the U.S. She was asked to perform the single at the Professional Bullriders' Association finals in Las Vegas, where she impressed an audience of 20,000 with her raw vocal ability and heartfelt deliverance.
The performance inspired Jewel, who was in the audience, to seek out Keeley and encourage her to keep writing. She did. Keeley's album, On the Inside Looking Out, will be released in the near future, and then she has plans to go on tour. But you needn't wait to hear her soul-searching lyrics and her clear, lingering lines. She's playing Saturday, April 16, at the Gumboot Garden Café in Roberts Creek. Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Gumboot for $10. Be sure to get there early for a good seat, so you can say you saw her when.