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Feature Artist: Ann-Marita!

"I try to always tell my stories exactly the way they feel to me, as opposed to trying to guess what the majority of people might want to hear. It seems to work. Turns out, a lot of us feel the same way about certain things, but you just have to look for that raw, sincere way to say it."

The LIST: How'd you get into Music?

Ann-Marita: I was born and bred in a tiny farming community in Norway. I have since then lived in Sweden, Iowa, Australia and now Los Angeles, California, so yeah, I've been getting around. I always gravitated to music, but there wasn't much of a supply of it in rural Norway, so I took to listening to my Dad's old country records, then trying to re-create what I was hearing with my voice - and an antique church organ that you had to stomp on to get a sound. The sound wasn't all that great, though, so instead I started jamming on a big boulder that with a bit of imagination could look like it had the shape of an upright piano. To a little kid of five, the rock piano sounded fantastic. But luckily, I finally got a guitar at fourteen...!

The LIST: Who are some of your influences?

Ann-Marita: My musical influences are very diverse. I find something I like in pretty much every genre, and it just depends what kind of mood I'm in. Timeless artists like Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Etta James are always major sources of inspiration to me. As songwriters, I adore Roger Miller, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell. Strong women with distinct voices, including Bonnie Raitt, Patty Griffin, Shelby Lynne, Shawn Colvin, Allison Moorer, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton...well, they rock my world. Stepping outside music for a second, I must say that Oprah Winfrey has been a great inspiration to me through the years. I mean, what has the lady NOT done?

The LIST: What have you been up to recently?

Ann-Marita: I've been getting ready for lots of touring in the coming months. I'm performing at all these festivals and fairs over the spring, summer and fall, including Norway Day Festival in San Francisco, California Music Industry Summit in Oakland, and Norsk Hostfest in North Dakota - the largest Scandinavian Festival in the U.S., where I'm on the bill with headliners Martina McBride, The Judds and Trace Adkins. My music has also been getting a lot of internet radio play lately. (...) In addition, I've been getting these really cool endorsement deals with companies like Daisy Rock Guitars, Tradition Guitars and Shubb Capos.

The LIST: What do you bring to the industry?

Ann-Marita: Well, there's the obvious thing; I'm a country/americana artist from Norway. Not many of us around. I've also brought with me so many different influences from the corners of the world I've called home at some point, and some of the comments I get about my music is that it defies any formula. I try to always tell my stories exactly the way they feel to me, as opposed to trying to guess what the majority of people might want to hear. It seems to work. Turns out, a lot of us feel the same way about certain things, but you just have to look for that raw, sincere way to say it.