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Band Country Singer/Songwriter




"She's Come Along Way in Hopes of Going Far"

She's come a long way in hopes of going far

Charles Hamilton
The StarPhoenix

Thursday, December 08, 2011

CREDIT: Submitted
Jannecke Friesen in the recording studio.

CREDIT: Submitted
Jannecke Friesen moved half way around the world for love but the Norwegian-born singer had no idea the move to Saskatoon would land her country music stardom in Nashville, Tennessee.

"I'm a little shocked at the whole thing," Friesen laughs. " Friesen has just returned from recording a four-track EP in the heart of country music. If all goes according to plan, the recent immigrant to Saskatoon could become one of this province's most valuable country music exports.

Friesen moved to Saskatoon two and half years ago, after meeting her now-husband Mark on Facebook. She speaks fluent English, but you can still hear her accent. That is, until she steps up to the microphone.

"This first time I ever heard her, it blew me away. It was one of the first things I fell in love with," Mark says.

"I just always thought, 'This girl needs to sing, people need to hear her.' "

Friesen never really had aspirations of making it big in the country music business, even though singing has always been a huge part of her life. Back in Norway, her father, Helge Nielsen, made a name for himself playing English-style pop music in the '60s and '70s. But while her dad's record collection consisted mainly of pop classics like The Everly Brothers and The Beatles, it was American country - people like Patsy Cline and Marie Osmond - that really grabbed her attention.

"He would listen to the odd country music record and I was just like, 'Wow, I really liked the feeling that the music gave me, much more than the stuff he would normally play,' " she says.

One look at Friesen and you can tell country music has had an impact on her life. With her jet black hair, feathered earrings, cowboy boots and leather jacket she looks the part. This may seem surprising since she spent most of her life in Bergen, Norway, an ocean away from the music's birthplace. She admits people are usually surprised when they hear that Nashvillestyle country has a stronghold back in her Nordic country.

"It's fairly big, actually. You have country communities who dig into all the music - they probably know more people in Nashville than I do," she says.

Friesen's first experience on stage was with her dad. She fondly recalls sitting in the studio with her dad's band, watching with fascination as the jumble of individually recorded instruments came together to create a complete rock and roll song. It was during one of those sessions that she got up on the microphone.

"It was kind of like, can we get her out of here or can we make her sing," she recalls. "I said, 'OK I will leave.' But then they said, 'No you are not leaving, you're singing.' "

She recorded some backup harmonies with her father, and did a handful of live shows with him. But it wasn't until a few years later that she was singing solo.

"I used to play around in the studio with Karaoke music tracks, just going in and singing just for the hell of it," she says.

One day, someone unexpectedly recorded one of these Karaoke-style sessions. He showed it to her dad and that's when her reputation in Norway began to grow. She began performing more and more alongside her dad, doing massive concerts in front of thousands of people.

But still she was hesitant about turning singing into a career. Mainly, she says, because while they may be fans, producers in Norway still don't know how to make a country record.

"I was approached a long time ago to do an album in Norway, and I said, 'No, because you guys don't know what you are doing and this music is sacred to me and I don't want to do something half-hearted,' " she says.

That all changed when she met Mark on the Internet. Eventually, he travelled to Norway to meet her in person. Soon after that trip, they got married. He lived with her in Norway for a year before they decided to move back his hometown, Saskatoon.

Mark says while he is not a musician himself, he was born and raised on country music. From day one it was in his "blood and bones." Once they were here and settled in, Mark began work on Friesen's music career. He set up a ReverbNation webpage with a few demo tracks. That effectively became her de facto manager. Then the calls from Nashville began to pour in.

But they weren't just going to accept any old invitation. They were waiting for the right person to call. After a few months, he did call. His name was Jeff Huskins, a well-known Nashville producer who worked with country super stars like Chely Wright. Huskins invited them down to Nashville for a recording session. For Nielsen, just going down to Nashville was a dream come true.

"Going down there to work, it was just surreal. I was like seriously, this is happening? For me it was just like, 'Pinch me, I'm dreaming' "

To travel to the birthplace of the music she loved was one thing. But getting into the studio with a cast of professional musicians backing up her singing was another experience altogether. She felt more like a star-struck fan, than a lead singer.

"At one point someone said to me, 'Jannecke are you there? Are you going to sing?' Because I was just sitting there with my mouth open just looking at all these guys who have played with all my idols. It was just insane," she says.

"The guy sitting next to me has played on everything Shania Twain has ever done. I just kept staring at these guys and soaking it up. Telling myself if this doesn't go any further, I'm just going to enjoy the moment."

One of the highlights of the entire trip was when Huskins invited her to use Big Bertha, the microphone Elvis used to record Blue Suede Shoes. (It was also used by such legends as Frank Sinatra and Martina McBride).

"I said, 'I'm not sure if I'm going to sing or talk or lick this thing,' " she laughs. "I wanted to get me some of that Elvis DNA."

She is still waiting to hear how things go down in Nashville. The producers are still putting the finishing touches on her EP. Once that's finished, they will pitch it to some major Nashville record labels and try to get her a contract for a full-length album. Then, the hope is that she will begin touring.

But for now, Friesen is content just to be given the chance.

"I just want to have the opportunity to do an album with these guys and if I sell 250 copies that's pretty good considering," she says.

But Mark is confident that people here will see Jannecke Friesen on stage sooner rather than later.

"It's really easy to promote something you believe in," he says.

Jannecke then interrupts: "Especially if you are married to her."

© The StarPhoenix - Saskatoon Star Phoenix


4 Track EP with radio release on first single two weeks ago.



Jannecke was born and raised in Bergen, Norway. Since the age of 5 Jannecke has been singing and performing. Her greatest influence and mentor has been her father, the Norwegian singing/performing legend, Helge Nilsen. Helge was a big name performer in the 60’s throughout Norway and Scandinavia and still is today. Through her father’s experience Jannecke hit the stage as a young girl, impressing crowds with her innate ability to project the meaning of a song and hold the audience with every note and lyric, while remaining pitch perfect. Through this experience Jannecke has developed into an incredible artist, both on-stage and in the recording studio.
Since moving from Norway to Canada with her husband and settling in new country, Jannecke has been very busy developing her career. In 2011 Jannecke was discovered by a top producer in Nashville by the name of Jeff Huskins (Played for Gene Watson, Clint Black and was a member of Little Texas; Owned his own label Vivaton Records with Chely Wright and Mark Chesnutt on his roster). Jeff invited Jannecke to Nashville to record a 4 track EP with the industries best musicians (Ed Bayers Jr., John D. Willis, Scott Sanders, James Mitchell, Jimmy Carter, Andy Leftwich, and Jason Webb), back-up singer (Wes Hightower) and studios (The Tracking Room and Blackbird Studios). Of the 4 songs Jannecke cut, two were written by Leslie Satcher (“Tough” for Kellie Pickler, “Troubadour” for George Strait along with other hits for Joe Diffie, Sara Evans, Lee Ann Womack, Wade Hayes, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, and Willie Nelson), “The Back Row” and “Daddy’s Old Records” , the 3rd track was written by Billy Currington/Carson Chamberlain called “Cowboy Cowboy”, and the 4th track is a song that was released in Norway in 2006 by Merit Larsen as a pop song called “Let it Go” that reached #1 for 6 weeks.
Jannecke has since released “The Back Row” and “Daddy’s Old Records”, regionally here in Canada, with rave reviews. We are preparing for a North American Debut Release in the near future.
Jannecke’s other musical influences are Dolly Parton, LeeAnn Womack, Shania Twain, and Allison Krauss. Although these ladies have had a great impact on Jannecke’s career, she has been able to develop her own vocal style and tone which make her a very unique and original country artist. Her heart is in traditional classic country and contemporary country in the line of Miranda Lambert.
Jannecke has just recently been in invited into the studio of Canada’s Top Country Producer, 2 time CCMA Best Producer Bart McKay, to record another track to add to her EP. This track will meet Cancon regulations to be released to radio and become a National debut single release Hit in Canada.
Jannecke is on the verge of becoming a very well known country artist in North America, with talent and ability rarely seen or heard. Jannecke is very interested in taking her career to the highest level.

Manager @ Jannecke