Greg Quill of The Toronto Star once wrote that singer-songwriter Lynn Harrison is "unafraid to reach into the darker parts of her heart for buried treasure" . It's one of the many things Lynn has been unafraid to do in the decade she's been sharing her delightfully original, engaging and insightful songs with others.
Her most recent challenge has been to write and perform a new song every week for a public radio program, Take5 on CIUT 89.5 fm in Toronto. Since she started the project in October '06, she's written dozens of new songs, including a moving tribute to the late social activist June Callwood, a heartwarming celebration of a small-town hockey team, odes to everything from oregano to orgasms. With uncommon versatility and range, Lynn can handle a hard news story such as the pro-democracy movement in Burma one week, and then create a funny song about yoga the next. (Most of the songs, in live studio performance, are posted here.)
Born in Texas, raised in Winnipeg and now living in Toronto, Lynn wrote her first song at age 12 and has been writing and singing ever since. A model for women who hope to balance artistic careers with motherhood, she has released three beloved solo albums, Lynoleum (2001), Learning Curve (2003) and Broadview (2005), all produced by noted Canadian musician David Woodhead, and has maintained a steady performing life at numerous cafes, clubs and festivals (Stan Rogers, Winterfolk and others) as well as schools, churches and community centres.
While every song from each of the CDs has received radio airplay at least once, several have emerged as "fan favourites": "Yes, It's Cold in Winnipeg" (confronting the dilemma of where a couple should spend Christmas), "First Day of School" (which receives widespread airplay every September), "Stage" (recently pirated on YouTube as a soundtrack to an interview with Miss America) and the upbeat "When I Walk I Run" , which could be an anthem for today's new environmental consciousness.
Other songs have been honoured in various song contests: "No Place to Go" (Healthy Marriage Songwriting Contest 2007--no kidding!), "Einstein's Brain" (Songs Inspired by Literature), "In Spite of It All" (John Lennon Songwriting Contest), "Tall Trees" , "Smooth Stones" , "When I Walk I Run" , "Sympathy Card" and "Always Falling in Love" (Unisong) and "Room to Love" (Ontario Council of Folk Festivals' "Songs from the Heart").
The "iLike" music recommendation service links Lynn Harrison's songs to those of John Prine and The Dixie Chicks. Recently, listeners have made many preposterously flattering comparisons--to Lynn Miles, Bruce Cockburn and Paul McCartney among others--but Lynn was especially moved by the thoughts of a listener who compared her songs to the paintings of Mary Pratt, the Canadian artist whose luminous, highly realistic works were achieved in the midst of a busy domestic life.
Lynn overcame her fear of busking by working as a licensed Toronto subway musician for two years (Fall '03 to Summer '06), which inspired a blog that explored the parallels between singing in the subways and singing beneath the radar of popular culture. She continues to write semi-regularly on songwriting, creativity and spirituality at Staying in Tune .
A Few Places Lynn has Played
CBC Radio - Sounds Like Canada, Fresh Air
The Renaissance Cafe
Oakville Centre for the Performing Arts
The Opera House
Dundas Public School
Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation
The Toronto subway system
The Free Times Cafe
The Rivoli (Bluebird North)
The Lula Lounge
The Tranzac Club
Winterfolk festival (3 times)
Toronto City Roots Festival (twice)
The Stan Rogers Folk Festival