Canadian rocker extraordinaire Lee Aaron hits the Westerner Days stage July 19th, kicking off her summer tour on the heels of her superb latest release Diamond Baby Blues.
Aaron’s show starts at 8 p.m. in the ENMAX Centrium.
For a woman who has been in the biz since the early 80s, Aaron commands enormous respect for her single-minded commitment to her craft.
And by all accounts, there is plenty more to come from Aaron, whose music continues to cleverly evolve - plus she’s truly never sounded better.
But Aaron has always had a way of commanding attention with that super-powerful, passionate vocal prowess.
Diamond Baby Blues spins a dozen tunes crafted in the tradition of the musical giants of the late 60s and 70s, and builds upon the momentum from her 2016 powerhouse disc Fire and Gasoline.
“It’s always gratifying when I do a show and someone will come up to me afterwards and say they’ve loved my music throughout the years, and they have one particular song that brings back a significant memory or a very special time for them,” she said during a recent interview with the Express.
“To have music that becomes a part of someone’s fabric is really a special thing.”
As to Diamond Baby Blues, the vision was specific.
“Something that had been happening over the last few years was that not only was I getting offers from rock festivals, but occasionally I would get an offer to play a blues festival, or a jazz and blues festival, because of my history of also doing jazz and blues in the late 90s and early 2000s.” Last summer, she and her band closed the prestigious Montreal Jazz Festival in front of more than 8,000 exhilarated fans.
“Evidently, people were hearing those bluesy kind of riffs in my voice, and those influences were already creeping into the rock music I was writing. So I thought, what the heck – why don’t we do an album where we intentionally try to lean a bit more in that direction. It’s a very comfortable place for me artistically to land.”
Cover tunes on the project run the gamut from the astonishingly searing I’m a Woman to Linda Ronstadt’s You’re No Good. “We chose the cover tunes first as a kind of road map for the direction of the record.”
Stevie Wright’s Hard Road is also a natural fit for the collection.
The original cuts also bubble up with that authenticity that defines so much of what Aaron has offered up over the years, particularly the title track that does an awesome job of reminding listeners what vaulted her to fame in the first place, but also breathes with those modern sensibilities that point to the versatile artist she is today.
“I think the covers are plucked from various genres, and I think the treatment we gave them in the studio brings them all together in very solid ways.”
Since the release of her iconic 1984 disc Metal Queen, she hasn’t stopped creating, evolving and surging ahead with specific artistic visions. And it all started pretty early on.
She was singing from the time she was around five, and belting out Broadway standards in junior high school theatre. She joined a rock band by the time she was 15, and had recorded and released her debut project by the age of 19.
Her mom was always musical, too, speaking of early influences.
“She always sang to us as children,” recalled Aaron. “She was also involved in church choirs until she passed away last November. When I spoke at her service, that was one of the things that I said I was grateful for, was that she gave me the legacy of music and of a love of singing.”
At five, she came home from Kindergarten and announced that she wanted to sing I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause for the Christmas concert. Unfortunately, practicing didn’t go so well, laughed Aaron, saying her mom even pointed out maybe she should do something else for the concert.
But once Aaron took the stage, her performance was terrific.
A couple years later, the school was casting for Heidi and although Aaron wanted the role, it went to a classmate who looked like Shirley Temple. But she couldn’t sing.
Aaron was tapped to provide vocals for the character of Heidi to lip-sync to.
“At the end of the production, the teacher introduced everyone in the production except for me,” she said. “I was devastated - I remember running out and jumping into my father’s lap.”
And it was at that point she knew she would never stand behind anything hidden away while singing.
When she joined her first band, it was becoming clear that a career path was taking shape.
“We practiced in the keyboard player’s brother’s basement. So from 15 through to my graduating year, we practiced, we rehearsed – and that’s when I really started getting interested in rock.”
These days, she’s just loving the ride.
“Number one, I’m still a fan of music – and I think you always have to stay a fan. I always feel like I still have something to aspire to. I feel like I’m constantly being influenced by new, fresh things as well because I have the heart of a fan.”