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On the road with Abi Ann

Anna Lee
Abi Ann performing at the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Singer-songwriter Abi Ann may only be 19 years old, but she’s already led a career musicians twice her age would kill for. 

“It’s definitely an anomaly,” Ann says. “It’s very surreal but it’s also very motivating because I just know that I wanna do this for the rest of my life.” 

Ann is sitting on her tour bus while her stylist applies glitter onto her hair, just minutes away from hitting the stage at the Chesapeake Energy Arena as the opening act for Pentatonix on their current world tour. But given her calm and cool demeanor, you’d think she was just another teenager hanging out with her friends as opposed to an up-and-coming pop star about to perform in front of 10,000 people. 

But it also makes sense given that performing has been a part of Ann’s life as long as she can remember. 

“I started out in musical theatre when I was six and my parents threw me into a bunch of activities because I was super ADD,” Ann said. “I did a lot of poetry when I was younger so writing just became my thing that I could go to when I was upset, happy, or feeling any sort of extreme emotion.” 

Growing up Ann was surrounded by her parents’ music of choice: country. Shania Twain and Toby Keith were regular fixtures in her household, and the genre struck a chord with her that sticks to this day. 

“For me country, more than any other genre, tells a story and it’s not necessarily about the hook, which is the great thing about pop music,” Ann says. “That’s why I like combining the two so that you have the lyrical value of country music with that catchiness that pop possesses.” 

That appreciation certainly shows in Ann’s varied discography, which dates back to her first single release back in 2012. Touching on themes like young love and heartache, Ann’s music is both surprisingly complex and a whole lot of fun. Whether it’s a somber country ballad (“It’s The Bones”) or a spunky Christmas tune (“Put A Bow On It”), Ann certainly knows her way around a catchy melody. 

Which is probably what’s made her such an in-demand talent the past few years. Based on the strength of her 2015 EP 17, Ann got the chance to perform with Kelly Clarkson as one of the opening acts on her Piece By Piece Tour. Experiences like that have only made Ann all the more confident to throw herself into a career in music. 

“Now I have so much more control and a sense of what I wanna do and what I wanna say,” Ann said. “At first I just sort of wrote what I thought people wanted to hear versus what I really wanted to, and I think my new music reflects that.” 

Ann’s creative process is fueled by emotion, alternating between planned writing sessions with other songwriters and writing by herself after something such as an impactful event in her life.

“Whenever I write along, it’s normally after something very emotional has happened and I need to write as a form of therapy,” Ann said. “I’m all over the place constantly, and songwriting is a very vulnerable space where I can pour out an entire story.” 

Judging from her life experiences these past few months, it looks like Ann’s definitely going to have more stories to channel into her music. Given that Pentatonix were also an opening act on Clarkson’s Piece By Piece Tour, Ann being the opening performer for them made this tour a sort of mini-reunion. 

“All of the team and everything is still the same so we just all got closer, which is so great because I know that’s not the case with every tour,” Ann said. “Everyone’s just been having really great vibes and it’s so refreshing to see a group as talented and incredible as Pentatonix become so successful.” 

Getting to see Pentatonix move from opening act to arena headliner in the span of a year made Ann more inspired than ever to keep building on her own career. But as much as she loves big venues and sold-out crowds, she’s already more than successful in her own eyes. 

“People will come up to me and say that my music has made them feel some way, and that’s how I define success because that’s why I do it in the first place,” Ann said. “I absolutely have goals, but I’m already so content with right now with all of the extraordinary things I get to do and people I get to meet.” 

One of those extraordinary things: releasing her first studio album. Ann says she wrote over 30 songs this past year and has already recorded around 12-15. At this point it’s just a matter of which will make the final cut, but she says to definitely expect some music in the new year. 

“Last year in high school I felt like I was balancing a double life with music and that I didn’t put as much pressure on myself to succeed,” Ann said. “But these past few months have just made me realize how passionate I am about music and how I wanna go all in by committing myself 150 percent.”

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Keaton Bell

Born in Minnesota but raised in Oklahoma, Keaton is a senior at the University of Oklahoma...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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