5 Questions with Jann Arden
We caught up with Jann Arden at this summer’s Wonderful Women event hosted by Weizmann Canada at Casa Loma, where she was part of a panel of ladies who — pardon our French — seriously kick a**. Listen in on her thoughts on females supporting females, her career highlights and what she’d say to her 20-something self.
CL: This event is aimed at celebrating inspiring, unique and wonderful women, and features a panel of extremely accomplished ladies. What does it mean to you to be included on a panel like this?
JA: It’s a great honour. Whenever you can celebrate the achievements of women, that’s really a remarkable feat. All over this planet, women are marginalized and set aside and unable to educate themselves, and in a lot of places still unable to vote, so when you look at our country, the profound freedom that we enjoy, the ability to educate ourselves in some of the finest academic centres on the planet, it really is great. I’m humbled and grateful and really excited to hear what everybody has to say about overcoming obstacles and how they got to where they’ve got to, and I’ll be very curious to see what they’re asked tonight.
CL: Who are some of the women that you look up to?
JA: Oh, my gosh, where do I even start? I have loved watching women like Beyoncé get out there and make some profound political statements. And Lady Gaga, for instance, breaking gender boundaries and being an advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people all over the planet. There’s just so many for so many different reasons.
CL: In terms of other career highlights, what are some of your favourite memories?
JA: Well, [tonight] is becoming one. I didn’t even know there was a castle in Toronto. I don’t know if I’ve been living under some kind of a rug, but [when I saw it] I was like, “What the heck is that?” But some of my favourite memories of my career include meeting some of my heroes like Bette Midler and Olivia Newton-John. Being able to write with people like Michael Bublé has been a career highlight.
CL: In terms of your music, where do you draw inspiration from when you’re writing?
JA: It’s from so many different places. It all sort of begins and ends with my personal experiences, and things that I observe. Books that I read have profoundly inspired me over the years — the themes of the books that I have been reading suddenly find their way into the music. And, you know, things have happened to my friends and family, and you can’t help but write about relationships you’re involved in, whether they’re good or bad, or positive or disastrous. I don’t think you can help but write that stuff down.
CL: If you could go back in time and tell yourself what you know now, what would you say?
JA: To really appreciate my parents. To get to know my dad a little bit better and hang in there with him. He’s got a tough exterior, but, you know, he’s in there somewhere. And to take better care of myself, as a young woman in my 20s, and have a little bit more respect for my personal space. I would definitely have that talk with myself.