I write and record my music as Anya Mia – it’s the name my family called me as a child, and keeps it separate from my writing under Anya M. Wassenberg.
My debut EP – Looking For Heaven’s Ghost (February 11, 2020) – was recorded at Blue Tilt Studio in Hamilton, ON (Canada) in 2019 & 2020, with Dan Zivkovic at the boards.
All the songs are tied by the theme of looking at the past – with mixed emotions.
Looking for Heaven’s Ghost – Live (Jan 26 2020) words & music by Anya Wassenberg ©2020. Vocals – Anya Wassenberg aka Anya Mia, Jason Colavecchia (bass), Toshiro Otani (guitar), Patt Lepore (drums), César Correa (keyboards). Recorded January 26, 2020 at The Masque Bluz Bar in Hamilton, ON.
Light of Day – Live (Jan 26 2020) words & music by Anya Wassenberg ©2020. Vocals – Anya Wassenberg aka Anya Mia, Jason Colavecchia (bass), Toshiro Otani (guitar), Patt Lepore (drums), César Correa (keyboards). Recorded January 26, 2020 at The Masque Bluz Bar in Hamilton, ON.
A jam-style version of Freight Train – at the Masque in Hamilton, Ontario, November 2019 with Jason Colavecchia on bass and Toshiro Otani on guitar (also on the recording) with George Kaloxilos on drums and Sean McCauley on harp.
Here’s a live version of my original song Winter Woollen Blues (and here’s the story of why I wrote it).
Check out more music on the Lingua Franca Collective page.
Selected Stage/Live Performance/Performance Art Credits
In addition to my recording/performing as a singer/songwriter.
- Guest vocalist – guesting with bands and shows in the Hamilton, ON region. Notable appearances: The J.J. Cale Show (2018 at This Ain’t Hollywood, 2019 at The Casbah), The Marcus Starr CD Release Show (Feb 22/2020 The Mule Spinner).
- Solo vocalist – performing at private parties and events, with backing tracks in Hamilton & area, 2017.
- A.R.T. – Anya & Rob – member of acoustic duo/trio playing an eclectic repertoire of originals (including mine), vintage jazz, roots, folk and pop from all eras – occasional clubs, restaurants gigs, charity & outdoor events in Hamilton & area 2015 to 2017.
- Singing – singing jazz & other standards (lead & back-up) with a trio called the P.U.B. Band occasionally in a local restaurant – 2013
- Harmony vocals on ‘Only Stars‘ by Marcus Starr on his sophomore EP titled ‘The Wrong Side of the Tracks’ (release February 22, 2020).
- Singing back-up vocals (roots, country) to covers & originals by Fred D Smith (in a trio with Lisa Swales on guitar) – in local bar & busking, occasional 2014
- Toronto Complaints Choir, Toronto, ON (Community based music/performance project, part of the 2010/2011 World Stage series at Harbourfront Centre, performances March 21-26, 2011 & July 1, 2011, Propeller Gallery, Toronto July 28, 2011)
Anya Wassenberg (Anya Mia) by Scott Gardner ©2020
Musical Theatre/Theatre/Performance Art:
- This Is Not A Musical: The Musical! – role of Beatrice (acting, singing, dancing) in premiere production part of the Hamilton Fringe Festival, creator/director Maxie Dara, July 20-30, 2017. Production won the festival award for highest ticket sales.
- The Encampment, Toronto, ON (Creative collaborator in an art installation on view from June 8-24, 2012, part of the Luminato Festival and the City of Toronto 1812 commemoration)
- The Police Station, Toronto, ON (Performance art project by Althea Thauberger, part of Nuit Blanche, October 1, 2011)
- I Cried For You, Toronto, ON (Live video performance as part of video art installation by Julia Loktev, performed as part of Nuit Blanche, October 3, 2010)
- Haunted Hamilton, Hamilton, ON (Ghost storyteller and animator, live performances Summer 2010)
- After Waking, Toronto, ON (a literary event where I gave a dramatic reading & also hosted/MC’d an author Q&A, The Social Bar, December 2009)
- Sex, Love and Sometimes…Relationships, Toronto, ON (a monologue show, played at the Poor Alex, Toronto in October 2009)
- Lee Walton, Toronto, ON (Life/Theater – a live performance art event, September 1, 2008 in Toronto)
- Burlesquesque, Toronto, ON (Comedy-vaudeville-burlesque performer/spoken word/emcee; performance August 10, 2006)
For about five years (2012 to 2017) I was also involved in the music industry through a non-profit arts group where I serve various functions including media coordinator, executive administrator among others. The group specialized in presenting world music and arts, including a concert season, 3-day world music festival, multi-disciplinary small venue arts festival, the Queer Cabaret (focusing on racialized lgbtq2s artists) and educational endeavours. The group: Matapa Music & Arts Organization and The Hamilton World Music Festival.
How I Found My Voice
This is slightly adapted from a piece that was originally posted at The Huffington Post.
I have a history of doing things out of synch with the rest of the world.
I tried the straight-and-narrow lifestyle at 20 – married, 9-to-5 job after a university degree, baby a sensible 5 years later. Something happened, though, when I reached my late twenties and the whole normal façade began to fall apart.
I started nude modeling at age 34 (a whole story unto itself). I realized I could sing right about when I turned 50.
An outside observer might have noticed that the signs were there. I’d taken guitar lessons as a pre-teen and was writing my own (admittedly awful) songs as a young teenager. I’d gone so far as to brashly take a tape and my guitar to a studio somewhere in the Big City at age 16, where a producer told me he could work with me on song writing (to the tune of lessons that I had no money for) and remarked, ‘you could also exploit your voice,’ (and his choice of words leads me as an adult to believe that he was in fact an actual studio professional and not a scam artist). He seemed to think I could sing. I actually wrote a lot of songs at that point – age 15 to 17 – some of which I’m now finishing and planning to record.
At the time however, I let myself be persuaded that I had no musical talent – and most particularly, not for singing. I sang my heart out in the car by myself for decades but never even considered the idea that I might be able to sing, like, in front of people.
It was a stint in a public art project – the Toronto Complaints Choir – a few years ago that changed my mind. Belting it out over 30 other participants, I discovered I wasn’t terrible at all. What I found out is that everyone can sing. It’s all lies in discovering your internal physics and letting your musical mind take over.
What parents don’t understand – as I now understand – is the overwhelming addiction that is making music. You’re touching the face of God in truth. There is nothing that comes close except maybe sex and music is not usually as messy or unhygienic.
Here I’ve been writing about the redemptive power of music to change lives for years – wrote about the devotion of the Sistema kids in Venezuela, the miracle of the Sierra Leona Refugee All-Stars and many more – and it’s only now that I get the true nature of it.
I could get all New Age-y mystical and say that singing is about tapping into some kind of universal song – that I’m only an instrument for the music that originates from some cosmic plane. That’s certainly what it feels like. It’s taken a couple of years of constant work but I’m finally at the stage where my technique is adequate for the kind of material I want to sing and the buzz of being part of a group of people making music is indescribable.
Now I find I want to sing everything; the world is full of an endless repertoire to learn. I’ve played in restaurants and lounges in my area with a little busking – which I love – on the side and a lot of singing and jamming with friends. The how and the wherefores don’t matter – just serving the god of music.
That’s why it really is wrong for parents all over the world to keep telling their kids to forget about music. And also why it’s wrong for instrumental and choral music to vanish from our school systems. It’s the universal language. It brings people together and makes them a part of something larger in a way that nothing else I’ve experienced in this world can do.
And the god of music is always looking for new devotees.
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