“Shut up and sing”

There have been some F-bombs littered in with an unhealthy dose of online vitriol that Calgary singer/songwriter Jann Arden is all too used to these days as she uses her platform to speak about the issues she is passionate about.

Well-known animal rights supporter Arden is also known for the passion she has for her hometown of Alberta. Lately, she’s set her sights on using her voice to dispel pandemic myths and misinformation.

“I’m never gonna sit on my hands,” Arden tells Calgary Citizen by phone while on a press tour. “Regardless of what you think about (the virus), you have an obligation… to the greater good.”

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She points to the recent anti-lockdown rodeo held near Bowden as an example of people who are doing more harm than good.

“I don’t do things out of disregard for other people. My actions aren’t affecting other people. My wearing a mask and my belief in science and being vaccinated is not hurting anybody else,” Arden says. “What they’re doing is the antithesis of that. They’re harming other people. And they think they aren’t but they are.”

That public stance hasn’t always come with a thank you.

“Believe me, I get a lot of vitriol with people that call me a snowflake and say ‘@#$%-ing shut up and sing and all that kind of stuff. But this has been catastrophic. I’ve had friends that have lost parents and grandparents. It’s really close to home for me and it’s God damn scary.”

“Remember when we had a year off?”

While the pandemic has divided people like never before and brought out the worst in many, Arden has also seen some positives. For the first time in years, she has been firmly rooted at her Bragg Creek-area home.

That’s not to say she hasn’t been busy…

After just wrapping up filming of the third season of her CTV series, Jann, she recently put on a live virtual performance. This, after releasing her latest book If I knew Then and writing a new record that she is finishing up this month.

“As far as not being on the road these past few months, it’s actually been a blessing because I don’t think I realized how tired I was. I normally travel about 250 days a year,” Arden says.

“I’m grateful for it because I know we’re all going to be thinking back to that time like, ‘oh, remember when we had a year off.’ I know how the world works; we’re gonna hop back on to that merry-go-round like it never happened.”

“COVID showed us the cracks in Alberta’s veneer.”

Arden would be fine if things didn’t go back to the way they were — in fact, she hopes it doesn’t.

“There’s a lot of things that COVID shined a light on and it showed us all the cracks in the veneer,” she says, pointing to long-term care facilities and animal welfare issues.

“We’re very fractured politically. It’s hard to see people pitted against each other and I’m hoping we can have some kind of unity going forward. I don’t think that’s going to happen in the short term. But it’s not the province I grew up in.”

That’s not to say Arden doesn’t love this city and province as much as she did growing up.

“I love the amount of global representation we have in Calgary. There’s nothing you can’t find here,” she says, adding she is eager to support local businesses when it’s safe again.

But what is she most looking forward to?

“I’m looking forward to going up to random strangers and hugging them.”

Us too, Jann, us too.

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