Perseverance, individuality, strength of character and drive come honestly to Lori-Ann, a resident of Vancouver who grew up in the small, somewhat isolated community of Celista on Shuswap Lake in the British Columbia interior.
An old white upright piano wheeled into the then-eight-year-old's school classroom marked the first time that she had ever seen the instrument. Instantly hooked, fired by a passion to play, Lori-Ann incessantly pleaded for music lessons for the next five years until the local music teacher was inspired to lend her his own piano. Despite occasional distractions pursuing athletics (including a stint as a ski instructor in Whistler), visual art and training in martial arts (including Chun Do, a Korean discipline in the healing realms), music has been a constant companion.
She obtained a Bachelor of Music degree from University of British Columbia (a double degree in music and fine arts) and a diploma from the University of Grenoble in France where, in addition to studying French language and culture, she immersed herself in the arts. Returning home, Lori-Ann was selected to participate in an exclusive program for composition for film, MIDI production and studio technique on the basis of her submitted work. The latter course of study led to several feature film credits (including Brush with Death, Last Breath, and Life After Sex, which call still be seen on the Showcase channel in Canada) and soundtracks for a handful of documentaries.
Her first, eponymous album was released on cassette in 1988 and its success led to a more ambitious CD project, recorded with a host of BC's finest session players and performers. In Search of Wings went on to become a top seller for 1994 at Banyen Sound (one of western Canada's best-known retail outlets for New Age recordings) and earned substantial airplay and critical accolades across the country. The subsequent In the Wake of a Whisper, recorded at UBC's Chan Centre for the Performing Arts on a Steinway Grand piano, increased her media profile and fan base nationally. It was also the springboard for a charity effort benefiting the Vancouver Cancer Centre, a gesture of thanks that saw Lori-Ann donate proceeds to the Centre's Music Therapy and Relaxation Program.
"Several years ago," Lori-Ann recalls, "I received a beautiful and poignant message from a young woman on the other side of the country who thanked me profusely for the hours of solace, comfort and peace my music provided for her through a very difficult journey with cancer. This message touched me very deeply as do many of the messages I receive from people expressing similar feelings with the music through a myriad of human experiences. I feel honoured to have the opportunity to touch people and make a difference in their lives.
"Since 9 -11, more people than ever are looking for spiritual and healing support which I believe is enhanced by the music. We can create in our personal worlds sanctuaries of healing, calm, peace and love through music."
In the Wake of a Whisper was nominated for a West Coast music Award in the Best Instrumental Album (Non-Classical) category in 2001, and remains on Festival Distribution's Top 25 best-sellers list to this day.If Lori-Ann Speed's life to date plays like a movie, the sequel surely holds the promise of further growth and adventure.
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