AV and the Inner City

Ann Vriend and the Inner City

AV & The Inner City— Biography

Edmonton’s own supergroup AV & the Inner City is taking the Calgary Folk Music Festival by storm…. They are a sure sell out.
—Stuart Muir, Artistic Director of the New Moon Folk Club (Edmonton)

This was an act that could have closed the Main Stage any night of the festival.  They earned a full house standing ovation.
—Vic Bell, former curator for the Nickelodeon Folk Club (Calgary)

"AV & the Inner City" is an all-female soul/roots group which formed during the course of the COVID19 pandemic and opioid crisis pandemic in the inner city of Edmonton, Canada.  This summer they were awarded an Emerging Artist Award based on their performances at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival, despite not having a single recording to their name.

The group is made up of 6 singers: band leader and multi award-winning singer-songwriter AV (Ann Vriend), Debbie Houle (co-founder of the Juno-nominated international touring Indigenous a cappella group “Asani”), jazz radio host, jazz singer, and professional pickle company owner Johanna Alleyne (company: Mojojojo Pickles and Preserves); Crystal Eyo, a communications business owner and lead singer and songwriter of Edmonton pop/RnB band “Mercy Funk”, ESL teacher Alenka Lundell, who fronted and wrote songs for bands in her home country of Czech Republic; and Jenn Dahlen, a guitar player, singer, and clarinetist.

The group formed organically on AV’s porch: from April 2020 until October 2021, on every Sunday that the pandemic restrictions and weather would allow AV hosted and performed nearly 60 free concerts on her front porch in the troubled inner city neighbourhood of McCauley; and often with guests, including the 6 above mentioned singers.   

Whereas the notorious, opioid crisis afflicted McCauley neighbourhood is a place many other citizens of Edmonton avoid AV’s weekly porch concerts nevertheless ended up showcasing “the hood” to many people who had not seen it before, and also provided a platform to engage and perform for people from all walks of life. 

In June of 2021, as small, outdoor concerts were allowed in that stage of the pandemic AV asked the group of singers that had been singing so often alongside her on Sundays if they would be interested in forming an actual official, rehearsed act; the repertoire of which are her own songs, with a cover song or 2 thrown in for good measure, and 3 part harmony soul/gospel style arrangements based around her voice and keyboard playing. All the singers responded with an emphatic "YES!”, and thus "AV & the Inner City" was born.

Since then “AV & the Inner City” has been invited to perform at many venues and festivals across Canada; including the Vancouver Island Music Festival, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, the Calgary International Blues Festival, the Taste of Edmonton Festival, and the Edmonton Folk Music Festival— and at the latter they were awarded an Emerging Artist Award.  They accomplished all of this without having a single recording to their name— though they are working hard to change that, and have put their award money towards studio time. Their 1st single, "Low & Lowly," was released February 2, 2024.

In the meantime, the porch concerts are still well remembered and requested by many in McCauley, and have served as a continual way of strengthening ties of cooperation and positive camaraderie, and therefore “AV & the Inner City” have committed to continue to perform at least 1 per year, pandemic or not.

And if you happen to pass by “the hood” you might hear their music blaring from a neighbour’s speakers, or the singers themselves practicing their harmonies in AV’s yard— or on the front porch.

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Here is an AV music video for "Nobody Is You Featuring the Inner City": 

Here is a mini-documentary about the group's formation, and their 1st out-of-province performance, which led to many festival bookings the following year:

 

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