It may seem perfectly natural for Jann Arden to be lobbing zingers as part of a panel of judges on a reality TV talent show.
Sheâ€™s a singer. Sheâ€™s a storyteller. Sheâ€™s funny, opinionated and quick with a one-liner. But when asked if she was eager to lend her talents to a typical Idol-type program, sheâ€™s fairly blunt.
â€œOh God, no,â€� says the Calgary native. â€œAre you crazy? Are you a crazy person?â€�
Apparently, Arden is not a fan of the format. Which is fine. Because despite its somewhat generic title, Canada Sings strays from the tried-and-true model of exposing fame-seeking wannabes to the withering critiques of celebrity judges.
Certainly the reality-show infrastructure seems in place. Arden is joined at the judgeâ€™s table by Simple Plan vocalist Pierre Bouvier and Rob Van Winkle, the set-trashing reality-show veteran formerly known as Vanilla Ice. Amateur singers attempt to win their favour by performing and thereâ€™s a prize at the end.
But thatâ€™s where the similarities end. Mixing a Glee-inspired approach to ensemble singing with a charity-minded competition, Canada Sings finds ordinary Canadians forming singing groups with their co-workers and competing for $10,000 in cash to go to the charity of their choice.
So the series, which debuts Wednesday on Global, pits impromptu glee clubs made up of firefighters, zookeepers, software technologists, hospital workers and other unlikely vocalists against each other.
They are helped along by vocal coaches and choreographers as we follow their progress from shaky amateurs to polished ensemble. Each week, two will compete for the charity money.
â€œInitially I had said no,â€� Arden says. â€œBut then I understood that it really wasnâ€™t about the fame game, which makes me sick, and I want nothing to do with that stuff.
â€œThis is really about people raising money for great causes and having fun doing it. Itâ€™s all about singing and dancing. These people suck when they start. Theyâ€™re terrible. And you would not believe how good they get. You think â€˜How in the hell did they pull this off?â€™â€�
While Arden may not have been yearning to star in a new TV show, this latest side project seems further proof that the musician is intent on conquering all streams of media.
A new album recorded with Michael Buble and Bon Joviâ€™s A-list producer Bob Rock is due out Nov. 1, as is a book she wrote chronicling her early years growing up in Alberta.
There was the televised one-hour documentary, Jann Arden: Free, which aired last year, and her narration duties for the CMT show ER Vets. On top of that, Arden has an hour-long CBC Radio 1 show called Being Jann, which is airing throughout the summer and finds her welcoming guests such as Buble and Stevie Nicks. She tweets, she blogs, she once wrote an advice column for Elle magazine and has done TV spots for Rick Mercer and Corner Gas.
But Arden doesnâ€™t seem particularly comfortable with the suggestion she is rapidly becoming Canadaâ€™s queen of all media.
â€œI like trying different things,â€� she says. â€œBut I really donâ€™t think Iâ€™ve reached saturation or anything like that. I walk down the street and nobody knows who I am. Itâ€™s very cute of you to say that. But believe me, I live a pretty quiet life.â€�
As for Canada Sings, it has an appropriately Canadian gentleness to it when it comes to the judgesâ€™ interaction with the contestants. Thereâ€™s no Simon Cowell on this panel.
â€œWeâ€™re more commentators, itâ€™s not really about judging and weâ€™re not really critiquing their performances,â€� she says. â€œItâ€™s not the format to do that. Itâ€™s one thing if a person is vying for a record deal, but itâ€™s not that kind of a competition.â€�
And, as a side benefit, the contestants who go through the long process seem inspired to adopt a seize-the-day, climb-every-mountain mantra similar to Ardenâ€™s.
â€œThis is about overcoming fears and obstacles and, for myself, it was very inspiring,â€� she says. â€œNot one of these people left this experience without saying â€˜I can do anything. I can do glass-blowing, or creative writing, or skydiving or rock climbing.â€™ A lot of them are saying, â€˜Why havenâ€™t I tried stuff before?â€™ In that way, itâ€™s very entertaining; itâ€™s touching. Itâ€™s not Little House on the Prairie cute, thereâ€™s great drama, great backstories.â€�
Article source: http://www.montrealgazette.com/Jann+Arden+makes+foray+into+reality+with+Canada+Sings/5186909/story.html