Canadian singer/songwriter Emm Gryner has built a career that is as eclectic, inspiring and memorable as the music she has created over the past two decades.
After scoring a major label hit with the Brit-Pop inspired single ‘Summerlong’ off her 1998 album ‘Public’ while still in her early 20s, Gryner has continued to independently release more than 15 albums worth of original material, including her latest and most iconic work – ’21st Century Ballads.’
Born in Sarnia, Ontario to an Irish dad and Filipina mom, Gryner and her siblings grew up in an environment where they were taught to work hard but were also afforded the freedom to explore their passion for music. With a diploma in Music Industry Arts, she relocated to Toronto and became a fixture on the city’s music scene, quickly earning a reputation as a musician, vocalist and songwriter of quality and skill, with a professionalism that belied her youth.
Her songs have always come from a deep reservoir of intelligence and emotion. They are sometimes esoteric, sometimes bluntly honest, but always very personal – and they have connected to a growing legion of fans from around the world. Touring Canada multiple times, Gryner’s has also lived in the music industry hubs of New York and Los Angeles, and has become a beloved artist on the Emerald Isle after touring Ireland in the mid-2000s.
She has toiled in bars and clubs and also performed in front of tens of thousands of fans and at the age of 24, as a member of David Bowie’s touring band.
Gryner has been sought out as a collaborator by many other artists across a broad musical spectrum, from Rob Zombie to Matt Nathanson. Younger musicians have gravitated to her songs, with many of these up-and-coming artists posting their versions on YouTube and other online platforms.
‘21st Century Ballads’ sees Gryner in complete control of her artistic outpouring. As an entrepreneur she has proved time and again that one can be a do-it-yourself musician and still craft songs of resonance and importance that are both critically and popularly acclaimed.
‘21st Century Ballads’ also features an artist at her most provocative and evocative. Drawing on the vibrancy of her live shows, the album has a raw energy and authenticity which melds seamlessly with her hauntingly elegant melodies and powerfully imaginative lyrics. Gryner fearlessly delves into topics torn from the headlines, from her own experiences and from simply being a keen and sensitive observer of the light and dark shades of the human condition.
The song ‘Wild Weight of Earth’ is about the tragedy of teen female suicide, while ‘Duped’ looks into the personal trauma of losing a colleague to allegations of crime. Another highlight is ‘The Race’ which pays tribute to an 80’s rock icon who has found success as a family man. Gryner herself is a wife and mother of two young children, and now lives in the peaceful pace of small-town southwestern Ontario.
More recently, alongside ‘21st Century Ballads’ producer Joe Corcoran, she collaborated with astronaut Chris Hadfield on his space-borne cover of Bowie’s classic song ‘Space Oddity’ in 2013, the video for which was a massive viral YouTube sensation. Gryner is also one third of the critically-acclaimed folk/Canadian trio Trent Severn.
Gryner has also become a devoted adherent to the PledgeMusic model, conducting a successful PledgeMusic campaign for 21st Century Ballads; as well as for her previous album, 2014’s ‘Torrential.’ It is a process that she feels has allowed her to develop meaningful and interactive relationships with fans throughout the globe.
- jim Barber