Serving Winnipeg's Jewish Community Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google BookmarksSubmit to TwitterSubmit to LinkedIn Youtube

Anna Mae SilverBy PENNY MARGOLIS
At the age of 70, former Winnipegger Anna-Mae Silver has done something of which she'd often dreamed: She's created her first jazz CD, containing all original pieces which she'd composed over the years.


I had the good fortune to be in London, England (which Anna-Mae has called home for the past 50 years) for the launch of her CD this past November, which she titled "In My Wildest Dreams".

Anna-Mae's life story is quite fascinating and, since I've known her all my life, I thought I'd share it with readers of the JP&N.
For almost as long as I've known her, Anna-Mae has composed jazz melodies. She told me that both her parents loved jazz and that her father, Wilf Silver, played jazz piano at home while Anna-Mae and her sister, Joan, were growing up. Their mother, Goldie Silver, now 97 years old and living in a retirement home in Toronto, comes to life when she hears music and in particular, Anna-Mae's compositions.

Anna-Mae spoke with me about how her father's love of jazz influenced her: "My dad was passionate about music, really passionate, and that inspired and stimulated me. We used to play duets and listen to jazz recordings together, and he would always ask me what I thought about the music and about particular singers like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan and others. He took me and my sister to jazz concerts, including to New York. His passion became mine. My mother too is passionate about music, and my sister Joan is a terrific dancer."
Anna-Mae studied classical piano to grade 7. She also took up the flute when she was older. At the age of 12, following a concert by the American clarinetist and jazz musician, Benny Goodman, she went up on stage and played "Summertime" with Goodman accompanying her on the clarinet. As a child, she entered festivals, and in one competition came second in a class of 87.
But composition was to become Anna-Mae's principal expressive medium, the seeds of which were planted during her exposure to jazz in her early years. As a very young piano student, she wrote a piece which so impressed her music teacher that she took Anna-Mae to meet her own teacher, Leonard Isaacs. Her teacher recognized something exceptional in Anna-Mae's musical ability.

It was in 1965 though  that Anna-Mae went to England, spending a year in Manchester with her aunt and uncle, Ruth and Reuben Bellan, and their three children (Paul, Susan, and Lorne), during Ruben's time there on sabbatical from his position as  a University of Manitoba economics professor.
The next year, Anna-Mae was so taken with living in England that she moved to London. For the next 25 years she focused on pursuits other than music. While working at an employment agency, she went to night school for pre-university courses, gained a B.A. in humanities, and later a CQSW in social work. She worked in child protection for ten years, then qualified as a psychotherapist with the Association for Group and Individual Psychotherapy. Anna-Mae has been working for Jewish Care for the past 25 years as a social worker and counselor, and for the past twelve years has offered counseling and led groups for Holocaust survivors. She also maintains a private psychotherapy practice.

In London, Anna-Mae met many jazz musicians, including Jon Hendricks and the Jamaican singer-songwriter, Jackie Edwards ("Keep on Running"), both of whom loved her music. Hendricks, one of the world's best known lyricists, having written for Miles Davis ("Desafinado" and "One Note Samba", among others) wrote lyrics for the first song that Anna-Mae ever wrote: "Somethins' Waitin'."
Encouraged by his enthusiasm for her music, Anna-Mae wrote three more tunes: "Love Doesn't Know My Name," "When Night Begins to Fall," and "Right On!" Hendricks arranged to have demo recordings made of all four songs. When Anna-Mae's father, Wilf Silver, heard "When Night Begins to Fall" which, at that time she called, "Fountain of Youth," he was thrilled. The first time Anna-Mae's music was heard in public was in 1976, at Rainbow Stage as a matter of fact, when June Harrison sang two of her songs, including "Right On!", with Hendricks' lyrics.

Sometime in her 40s, Anna-Mae's interest in jazz performance reached a new level; she began attending jazz courses and workshops "to learn to play properly." She discovered that she'd been using jazz chords without knowing that they were jazz chords, which is not surprising since she had grown up with the sounds, dissonances, and rhythms of jazz; they were in her bones. Before long she had formed her own band, 'Annamation.'

Fast forward to November 29, 2015 and the launch, to great acclaim, of "In My Wildest Dreams." As Anna-Mae explained to the audience that evening, "The title of this CD sums up just how I feel about making it: I never believed, in my wildest dreams, that I would ever produce a jazz album of my own compositions!" Included on the album is a beautiful, touching piece entitled "Song for My Mother," with lyrics written by Anna-Mae.

Vocalist and lyricist Rachel Sutton wrote: "Anna-Mae’s work is both moving and uplifting – a real joy to sing and a wonderful canvas for lyrical creation. Musical director, pianist and composer John G. Smith, member of the influential band 'Roadside Picnic,' came on board and made sublime arrangements for the recording. Liane Carroll is a singer whose extraordinary voice and emotive presence Anna-Mae had always greatly admired. Liane was excited by the music and keen to be involved.
For a male voice, Lance Ellington  (son of Ray), well known for his work on ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, is featured on the album, along with the beautifully tender voice of Jane Milligan, Spike’s daughter and a successful musical theatre actress."

Three songs from the album, "Landbird," "Carousel" and "Somethin's Waitin'" were added to London's JazzFM playlist just days following the launch at The Venue in London. "Echoes of a Feeling," a piece dedicated to the Holocaust survivors with whom Anna-Mae works as a social worker and psychotherapist, has also been played on JazzFM.
As with all great and memorable jazz standards, Anna-Mae's compositions are both musically sophisticated and highly accessible. This bodes well for their enduring popularity in the jazz repertoire.

Album tracks and further information about the performers can be found on: http://anna-maesilver.bandcamp.com/releases

You can watch a professional video of the launch on Vimeo at: https://vimeo.com/149632361

You can email Anna-Mae at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Add comment


Security code
Refresh

Comments   

#1 musical gift for music loversmarcia smithen cohen 2016-05-01 18:30
What a wonderful write-up! The jazz album is amazing, with its haunting, memorable assortment of Anna-Mae Silver's compositions. Her musical gifts are beautifully rendered for us to savor again and again and again. More! Give us more!
Marcia Smithen Cohen, Aventura, Florida
Quote