You’d be hard pressed to find a Canadian who’s never heard of Jann Arden.
Although the singer-songwriter’s biggest hits (“Insensitive,” “Good Mother,” “Could I be Your Girl,” to name just a few) dominated the airwaves back in the ‘90s, Arden has since built a career that dips into various realms of entertainment. On top of singing, she’s also appeared on various TV shows and penned multiple books.
The Question caught up with Arden via email ahead of her show at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Friday (Sept. 1) to talk about her various projects, long career and opening up on social media.
The Question: This country has talked pretty much non-stop about our history, identity and culture in this Canada 150 year. I would say you’re one of a handful of Canadian musicians who this country holds up as an example of homegrown talent. How do you view your role as a Canadian musician? Is it limiting to be labeled with that term or do you embrace it?
Jann Arden: It’s not limiting at all. Being a Canadian is a really, really special ticket that gets you into the rest of the world. We are respected all over the planet and are known for our altruism and our diversity. That is what makes being Canadian so special. I live a few miles from where I grew up and that geography has always and will always affect the way I write and what I write about.
Q: Alongside music you’ve delved into other forms of entertainment from acting to hosting programs and writing books. Did you set out to diversify your career or have all these opportunities unfolded organically?
JA: It was simply the road my work took me on. I think the only way to survive in life is to adapt and change and evolve into something new as much as possible. Nobody wants to paint the same picture over and over again, or write the same song or wear the same pants. You have to keep moving forward and embrace challenges as much and as often as possible.
Q: You’re well known for opening up about personal and family challenges. How do you make the decision about what to share and what to keep to yourself? Has that changed with the advent of social media?
JA: I have always been an open person. I don’t know how else to be. When it comes right down to it, we are all pretty much dealing with the same issues. Jobs, relationships, deaths, illness, failure, triumph, loss, depression, joy…..all of it. We are all going through everything and when you realize you’re not alone in that, life is a lot easier. I love social media, I think it takes some time to really understand how to use it properly and effectively, but it can be a positive force in human life. Cruelty always needs to be cut off at the heels, and that falls on all of us to do. Complacency is as bad as actually doing the actual “hurt.”
Q: Can you tell me a bit about the projects you’re most looking forward to right now?
JA: I have a book coming out on Nov. 21 called Feeding My Mother. It is about my journey the last three or four years with my parents and Alzheimer’s disease. It’s actually quite funny. Hopefully it will help people that are going through this themselves with a family member or a friend. I’ve also had the opportunity to do some acting on CBC’s hit show, Workin’ Moms. It is just a joy to be around these creative people and learning new skills. One thing I’m not afraid of is failure. You have to try new things.
Q: What can Whistler expect from your show here on Sept. 1? (I’m curious if you feel obligated to play all the hits!)
JA: It is a perfect backdrop for my music. I think we play songs that we love. Whether they were hits or not never really plays into my decision making. I always do the obvious ones, because we LOVE playing them, but we try and cover off the last 25 years and take people on a bit of a ride.
Catch Jann Arden at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Friday (Sept. 1) at 7:30 p.m.