Winnipeg Free Press

Canadian rocker returns to her roots

Sheldon Birnie
May 26, 2017

Hi Neighbour headliner Lee Aaron excited for ‘homecoming’ gig

There’s no doubt, the Park City will be rocking next weekend.

Canadian rocker Lee Aaron, who had a breakout hit in 1984 with Metal Queen and released her most recent album Fire and Gasoline in 2016, will play a homecoming show at Transcona Square to kick off the annual Hi Neighbour Festival on Fri., June 2.

Metal Queen Lee Aaron, who lived in Transcona from two to nine years old, will perform a homecoming show at the Hi Neighbour Festival on Fri., June 2.
Metal Queen Lee Aaron, who lived in Transcona from two to nine years old, will perform a homecoming show at the Hi Neighbour Festival on Fri., June 2.

"I’ve been back to Winnipeg multiple times over the course of my career, but not Transcona," said Aaron, who grew up on Dowling Avenue between the ages of two and nine, said from her home in Vancouver, B.C.  "To be invited to do Hi Neighbour Festival is just a delight. I have fond memories of long, lazy cloudless dry summers, and I remember one instance of my dad shoveling us out of the house in the winter."

According to Aaron’s mother, the singer — whose hits include Whatcha Do to My Body, Some Girls Do, and I Like My Rock Hard — got her first taste of the spotlight at Radisson Elementary School.

"If there were any plays or performances, I’d get involved," Aaron said, recalling that her first public performance as I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus in kindergarten.

While her mom was a talented singer in the church choir, Aaron also received some of her earliest musical education from a neighbour.

"Two doors down from us lived Blair MacLean, from MacLean and MacLean," Aaron said. "There were always interesting people coming and going from their house. My sister and I were both friends with his son Kevin. Occasionally, Burton Cummings would come over and hang out for the weekend.

"One time, Burton took us all for a ride in his new convertible Jaguar," Aaron recalled with a laugh. "He probably wouldn’t remember that, but I do."

Aaron’s family moved back to Ontario when she was nine, and she got into the rock scene in Toronto as a teenager. Following a string of hits in the 1980s and early ‘90s, Aaron’s career came to a bit of a halt.

"I don’t think I was the only artist whose career fell off a cliff when the whole grunge thing happened," Aaron admitted.

After taking a year off, she started playing small clubs in Vancouver, performing old jazz, blues and Broadway standards she’d started singing before falling for heavy metal.

"I ended up doing a couple albums," Aaron said. "Then I ended up doing a lot of jazz festivals in Canada and Europe. And then I had my daughter in 2004."

After 20 years in the music industry, Aaron decided to take a "complete hiatus to be a mom" to her two kids, who are now 11 and 12 years old.

"Music is great, I love it and will always consider myself an artist," Aaron said. "But motherhood has been the most transformative experience of my life."

Still, Aaron would perform occasional shows here and there. And, once her children were older and gaining more of their independence, she began to feel the creative urge again. In the spring of 2016, she recorded Fire and Gasoline, in many ways a return to her melodic, but hard rocking form of the early ’90s. And while she hasn’t embarked on a full-scale tour, Aaron has taken her show across the country, and is preparing for a tour of Germany and the U.K. this summer.

"My show is very fun, very family friendly," she said. "I have a fantastic band of fantastic musicians. If you can’t play and sing, you can’t be in my band. That’s my philosophy. What you see is what you get."

For her show on June 2, Aaron said fans can expect a mix of the hits, some crowd favourites, and new material. The new album, which Aaron admits has been  hard to find in stores, will be available, and Aaron will be hanging out after the show to meet fans and reconnect with old friends.

"One of the things I do, my favourite part of the job is meeting the people who enjoy the music," she said.

© Copyright Winnipeg Free Press

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