Alana Levandoski is a roots music singer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She was raised in the small town of Kelwood, Manitoba. In 2005 she released the critically acclaimed album Unsettled Down on Universal Music Group. She has performed on CBC and BBC radio.
Sessions have been completed in Kelwood, Manitoba for Canadian Alana Levandoski's long-awaited second album.
The Canadian singer/songwriter began recording the album with UK producer Ken Nelson in Kelwood at a local church in Feb. 2008. Final sessions for her album took place at Parr Street Studios in Liverpool, England in April and May 2008.
Leading up to her second album, Alana co-wrote with such leading country and roots-styled American songwriters as Quinn Loggins, Sam Ashworth, James LeBlanc, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Rachel Thibodeau, and Gary Nichols. She also co-wrote with Sylvia Tyson, Colin Cripps, and Simon Wilcox in Canada,
Alana’s reputation as a significant international singer/songwriter was initially bolstered by her debut album "Unsettled Down" released by Rounder Records in Canada in 2005 and in Europe in 2006.
Reviews of "Unsettled Down" were plentiful. Alana was profiled in numerous European publications, including Maverick and in such Canadian magazines Canadian as Maclean's and Penguin Eggs as well as the street papers, the Georgia Strait in Vancouver, and Now magazine in Toronto.
Alana first performed in the UK and Europe in early 2006 with Dar Williams, Lynn Miles and Caroline Herring as well with Jess Klein. She returned to the UK in 2006 opening for the Elana James Trio, and fellow Canadians Blue Rodeo. She did a tour of Ireland and England in 2007 with fellow Canadian Lynn Miles
In Canada, Alana toured nationally with the Corb Lund Band as well as did dates with Stephen Fearing, Randy Bachman, the Arrogant Worms, and Tanya Tucker.
“Borrowed Tunes Two,” a two-CD musical tribute to Young, produced by Mike Roth of Big Bold Sun Music, was released in Canada Oct. 16, 2007
It features Canadian artists including Alana, Barenaked Ladies, Ron Sexsmith, Dave Gunning, Finger 11 and Chantal Kreviazuk performing their favourite Neil Young song. Alana sings “Don’t be Denied.”
“Borrowed Tunes Two,” like its predecessor, graphically shows that, as well as being a great singer and guitarist, Young is also one of rock’s most important composers. He's written a phenomenal number of perfect songs and even his lesser songs have an unmistakably magical quality.
Profits of "Borrowed Tunes Two” are being donated to the Bridge School, located in the San Francisco Bay Area, California; and the Safehaven Project for Community Living in Toronto.
Alana was raised in the small village of Kelwood, Manitoba. "I was born in nearby McCreary but Kelwood--six miles from our house--is where I have always called home," she says. "This is where both my parents attended school and my mother's family have received their mail for fifty years. My father grew up on a farm ten miles south and attended school in the village of Riding Mountain. My parents met in grade eight." (When the Riding Mountain school closed, her father was transferred to the Kelwood school).
Alana's childhood came as rural Western Canada was undergoing a significant makeover, from a pastoral setting into corporate farm Canada. Kelwood, with a population of 300, was no longer a bustling farming community. The railway, along with the grain elevators, had been removed and the main highway had been rebuilt a mile to the west. So most businesses had closed. It had a general store (with a post office), one garage, one cafe, a school, a skating rink, a community centre, and Canadian Legion Hall.
After attending kindergarten in Kelwood, Alana was educated at home with her older sister Nadia, and younger brother Matthew.
"Our parents wanted to have more influence over our development," she recalls. "They felt strongly that we should be able to explore the natural strengths and interests we possessed without the pressures that exist in educational facilities. While my peers were cramming for a science test they'd likely forget the day afterwards, I was able to ride Arabian horses through the Riding Mountains, naming trees, birds, wildlife and plants.
"If I finished my academics in the morning, I got to put my attention toward my passions in the afternoon. My passions were literature, acting, and music. When I was 10, my parents built a stage in my room. It had curtains that could close just like in a real theatre. My friends and siblings and I would put on theatrical shows. We invited neighbours, and sometimes charged admission."
One of the remaining venues in Kelwood was the skating rink. From age three until she left home, skating was a central part of Alana's life. "We were one of the first clubs around to have a precision skating team," says Alana proudly.
Alana's first involvement with music began at 9 until 13 performing in the gospel-styled band Family & Friends in her parents living room each week. "My musical influence as a young child consisted mostly of gospel music," she recalls. "I picked up a guitar when I was 12. I also took piano lessons for many years."
By 14, Alana's musical tastes were diverse. She avidly listened to recordings by Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Johnny Cash as well as the music of rockers Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, the Rolling Stones, and U2. "I can still almost smell the incense I used to burn in my room as a teenager while listening to such incredible talent," she says. "Most of my heroes wrote songs in a very raw fashion."
At 15, Alana began entering and winning local talent contests, performing mostly her own songs. Her first fully realized song was "Sailing From Holland" about being a sailor. "It's a good song but I was still developing my sound," she says.
At 17, Alana played off-and-on with 600 Bones, a Brandon, Manitoba group that performed jazz, folk and worldbeat. By 2001, after living briefly in Turkey, she was residing in Winnipeg and performing with Jamoeba, a 6-piece 'jam' band.
In the interim since chopping off her dread-locked hair, Alana's reputation was bolstered early on by performing alongside Lindy, the Wyrd Sisters, Randy Bachman, and the Arrogant Worms. She has also co-written with Canadian folk matriarch Sylvia Tyson as well as Simon Wilcox, George Canyon, and Colin Cripps.
She was also hailed as "The 'It' Girl of Canadian Roots Music" by CBC Radio host Bill Stunt. In his 2005 book "Made In Manitoba" Winnipeg music historian John Einarson wrote: "Alana Levandoski's name is dropped in the most exclusive music circles as the next major singer/songwriter to emerge from Manitoba."
Another alana fan is legendary BBC radio 2 announcer, historian Bob Harris. "I got introduced to Alana Levandoski in Toronto by Larry Le Blanc, Canadian bureau chief for 'Billboard' magazine. Larry has been soaked in the music industry for more than forty years and is one of the great commentators of our day. He feels that Alana is among the most sincere and gifted talents he's ever heard and I, too, find her music touchingly beautiful. Her album is called 'Unsettled Down' and, like most of the things I enjoy the most, she didn't throw huge production costs at it. The music sits across the line between Folk and Country and she is clearly very appealing, as postings on my web site message board confirm. Robert Mills said 'wonderful stage presence and beautiful songs' while 'Bobble318' wrote 'Gotta agree with Robert about Alana Levandoski. Great show'.
"Alana is part of an emerging generation of new artists who are reflecting the range of influences that make Canadian music so exciting, from the brilliant free-form collective Broken Social Scene, to the authentic Country twang of Corb Lund. Among my current favourites are the Wailin' Jennys album 'Firecracker', and a self-titled CD by Toronto based band The Novaks. And to demonstrate the continuing depth of Canadian music, elder-statesman Neil Young has returned to the electric guitar and the territory of 'Southern Man' and 'Ragged Glory' with the rush-release of the angry 'Living With War."