Every summer, artists from all corners of this great country of ours flock like blackflies to the close-knit B.C. community of Wells.
Tucked in between Quesnel and the paddling haven of the Bowron Lakes, this colourful village, population 236, grows in triplicate in July and August, due in part to the nearby historical gold rush town of Barkerville, but also because of the annual, respected arts festival ArtsWells.
With galleries dotting the streets, and its historical theatre, Wells is an arts haven, so it’s no wonder that a number of North Okanagan musicians and actors make the journey up there every year.
One of those artists heading to ArtsWells for the first time is Vernon singer-songwriter Carolyn Anele, who has been selected as the winner of the B.C. Musician Fred Penner Songwriting Contest.
Anele has not only earned the opportunity to perform at the 10th annual festival, but will also attend an intensive workshop led by the contest’s namesake, The Cat Came Back children’s entertainer, Penner.
“I’m honoured, delighted and excited to go,” said Anele, who leaves for the four-day workshop July 30 and performs on the first day of the festival Aug. 2. “Everything I’ve heard about (the festival) is that it’s wonderful.”
The contest was judged by B.C. songwriters Ross Douglas, Yael Wand, Bob Campbell and Karyn Ellis, who narrowed down the 45 entries from around the country to eight finalists, with the final selection being done by the producers of B.C. Musician Magazine.
Anele earned the top spot with a song she wrote for her three-year-old son, Charlie.
“It’s called I’m a Baby,” she said. “If he could have written the song, this is what it would be.”
Born in Salmon Arm, Anele honed her songwriting into an art form living in Kelowna and more recently Vernon, where she has settled into family life, raising Charlie.
It’s a rare occurrence, Anele says, to find the solitude to write these days, however, she manages to squeeze out whatever time she can get during the everyday activities of being a wife, mother and homemaker.
“Family and music, it doesn’t get any better than that for me,” she said.
Those precious moments, where she has found the time to write, are about to result in her first album since her 2002 debut The Harbour, and more recent four-song self-titled CD.
Co-produced by Anele with Andrew and Zachari Smith of Lake Studios in Kelowna, the album, entitled Where Birds Sing, is expected for release in the fall.
“I plan to correlate its release with some live performances in Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm, where I am from,” said Anele.
Other local acts performing at ArtsWells this year including Barefoot Caravan (formerly Expression World Music Collective), DJ Grampa Gruv (Ed Walters of Fandango Farms fame) and singer-songwriters Jayme McKillop and Mikkal Waters.
Those planning a trip to Wells can check out the full lineup at www.artswells.com.
More on Anele and her music can be found at www.carolynanele.com.