Jenn Grant takes the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Feb. 3-4 for their on stage concert series. The series puts the audience on stage with the performer for an up close and personal performance. (Mat Dunlap photo)

Up close and personal folk pop jams

The Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society presents Jenn Grant Feb. 3-4

It’s about finding the sweetest melodies and laying them over the best possible tracks.

That’s the modus operandi of Halifax singer-songwriter Jenn Grant, who takes the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Feb. 3-4 for the Society’s on stage concert series, which places the audience on stage with the performer for an up close and personal performance.

“That’s exciting. It sounds super fun. I love it,” Grant said of the on stage concert series. “I try to create some intimacy whether they’re big shows or small.”

Grant, currently touring Canada with her March 2017 release Paradise, is equally stoked on testing the Vernon waters.

“I’m a sucker for a nice theatre,” Grant said. “Whether it’s big or small, if it has a nice feel, it gets you excited about it.”

According to the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre Society audience development officer Keyanna Burgher, that’s what the series is all about.

“With the audience seated cabaret style on stage, our on stage concert series allows for audiences to relax and enjoy an up-close and personal concert in this intimate venue,” Burgher said.

Paradise stars the two-time Juno nominee on piano, synthesizer and vocals, and marks a turn in the lifelong creative’s style.

“It’s a little more heavy on the electronic side, but I would never describe myself as an electronic artist,” Grant said of Paradise. “It’s a little bit dark but also a little dance. I feel like it’s a rich record. I’ve really enjoyed presenting it.”

And it’s a blend of melancholy and rhythm embodied on the album’s fourth track, Lion With Me, the music video for which dropped Jan. 8 on YouTube.

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On Lion With Me, animated by the talented Christopher Mills of Number Four Films, Grant sings of troubled and distant partners through poetic and dark bindings that conjure images of love and sadness.

“Through the hemlock I can see, smoke rising signaling me, I will wait,” Grant sings.

Along with her dark poetic style demonstrated on Lion With Me, Paradise denotes a contrast from her 2014 fifth full-length studio album Compostela, which was nominated for Songwriter and Contemporary Album of the Year at the 2014 Juno Awards.

“For Paradise, about half of these songs I wrote on piano, which was never my instrument but is becoming it now,” Grant said, adding that she enjoys exploring the deeper hooks crafted on the keys. “I wanted to explore new soundscapes. I thought about my singing much more I feel like a completely different artist from when I began performing. I don’t feel like I heard my own voice until recently. It’s just a different sound.”

While the end product may be different, the process remains unchanged.

“It’s always about singing and finding melodies, and it’s always been about using whatever you can think of to play,” Grant said.

That’s the theory instilled in Grant since young age, she said, noting her exploration of A-cappella ballads at the age of seven and her first guitar complete with a plaid zip-up case she received at age 12.

Though, she didn’t expect her love of music to translate into her now decade-long professional music career.

“I didn’t think about it too much. I actually had stage freight for 10 years,” Grant said. “I’m also interested in art in a physical form. I went to art school because I had stage freight and it was something I could do. I think they strengthen each other.”

However, after an influential concert, Grant knew it was time to seriously delve into performance arts.

“I saw Teegan and Sara in Halifax and that helped me out of my stage freight,” Grant said. “I thought I would take the leap.”

Now, a decade later, Grant is glad she took that step.

“I love the escapism of music and experiencing that with people,” Grant said of what she loves about performing live. “I would never give it up completely. It’s something that’s a part of me.”

Grant takes the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre stage Feb. 3-4 at 8 p.m. for the Society’s on stage concert series. Tickets are available for $30 through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. No minors.

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