2013 JUNO Award nominee, Annabelle Chvostek is a versatile multi-instrumentalist who was born and raised in Toronto. She made her professional debut with the Canadian Opera Company at just seven years old, earned a degree in interdisciplinary fine arts at Concordia University and stayed on in Montreal after graduation. There, unencumbered by the expectations of the Anglo roots world and surrounded by Montreal's avant-garde arts scene, she began composing for dance and film, playing in bands and performing solo shows on the Montreal-Ontario-New York circuit.
Between 1997 and 2004, she released three independent albums and an EP, toured Europe with a new-media performance piece called the Automatic Prayer Machine, a collaboration with Anna Friz, and performed across North America with artists like Po'Girl, Rae Spoon and Barlywick.
In 2004, she was selected to replace Cara Luft in the Juno-winning Wailin' Jennys, a gig that took her from obscurity to international acclaim. Chvostek's songs were repeatedly singled out by critics as highlights of the Jennys' Juno-nominated CD, Firecracker. "Devil's Paintbrush Road" was the most downloaded song from the album on iTunes for months. It was also the #1 Canadian song at U.S. folk radio in 2006, and it remained at #3 in 2007. During her two and a half years with the Jennys, Chvostek toured Europe, performed on A Prairie Home Companion, sang on the Juno Awards telecast and earned a Juno nomination for Best Roots and Traditional Album Group.
Then, in 2007, she left the Jennys and reprised her solo career, signing to Borealis Records and releasing what many see as her solo debut: Resilience.
It was nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award for Contemporary Album of the Year and became the second most-played Canadian album at U.S. folk radio at the start of 2009. Since the album's release, Chvostek has done yearly tours of the U.K., criss-crossed Canada and the U.S. and completed a 2009 tour through Poland and Slovakia. She also released a Live from Folk Alley live album in 2010. And last year, her two co-written duets with Bruce Cockburn were released on his Juno-winning album Small Source of Comfort.
"The Wailin' Jennys' loss is the world's gain", declared the Saskatoon Star Phoenix in response to Chvostek's post-Jenny debut, adding, "her original compositions are full of aching desire dressed in poetry and rendered with a musical imagination that seems to know no bounds".
That same musical imagination is in evidence on Rise, for Chvostek has managed to take a decades-old art form, the protest song, and completely reimagines it for a new era of activism.