As a child, unbeknownst to her, Annie was named the “Little Canary” by her Vietnamese babysitter (*see below). Was it fate then, having been likened to such a sweet songbird, that this Sydney born singer/songwriter went on to weave melodies around her own lyrics? Growing up in the “burbs” of Sydney, in a close family, hot summers under the sprinkler interrupted with endless days at her Grandparent’s Macquarie Pass property. Idyllic. She remembers filling up on the feel and sounds of the bush, and the Aussie rock – influenced by 80’s rock legends Hunters and Collectors, 1927 (who’s producer Garry Frost she has worked with) and Noiseworks (coincidently now teaching vocals to their children!)
A self-proclaimed “late bloomer”, to the pop scene, Annie won Underfoot Producer Michael Hardwick, in a song competition, or so the anecdote goes. Her voice gave him goose bumps, and her songs, anchored in a spiritual and heartfelt pop tradition, were recorded over a few months. She sang her first recorded song “I Knew” at her Wedding, and then as often happens in a heroine’s story, her journey became challenging and inward focused, and a decade passed from those first recordings.
Now after the inward pause in play, the songbird has returned to the studio. The timbre of her voice and the depth of her feeling body are now written large across her work, with songs that capture the minutiae of a life well lived, and fiercely loved. Woman, mother, and lover, her music and passions are resoundingly spiritual and heartfelt and still there’s cheekiness in her delivery and turn of phrase, an underlying playfulness and purity of tone and meter that delights the ear.
So despite the hype around the fabled “early Bird” let’s not underestimate the late bloomer. She has had rave reviews from publishing group AMPAL. Listeners have commented that her voice has the power to transport you to another time and place, with comparisons to Eva Cassidy, Sheryl Crow and Dido. Anne Maree Higgins creates a space that is truly her own sound dimension.
*(Ok, so the story goes…. In the late 1970’s Hong Ha, a young Vietnamese Refugee, came to Australia by fishing boat. Aged 14 she was taken in by the local Catholic Church community with her three siblings. Once she’d settled in, Hong Ha began babysitting for a local family of three girls. 30 years later at a morning tea the youngest girl Annie was reunited with her babysitter. Hong Ha recalled those babysitting years: remembering when she brushed her long blonde hair, and had always heard her singing, and so between themselves she and her brother had named Annie the ‘little canary.’( ít con chim hoàng yến ). At the reunion Hong Ha shared this secret name with her for the first time. A few months after the reunion Annie named her new vocal Studio, Canary Studios, in memory of the courage of Hong Ha and the pure beauty captured in the Canaries song.