LYNN MANTLE- THE NEW DIRECTION Torn between two loves and you know who’s gotta win. Could be a lyric from a Lynn Mantle song and equally, a thumbnail take on her life so far. Born to the blues and come home again. This is the Lynn Mantle experience; a life-inspired singing style that fits the blues like a rainy night in Regent Park. It isn’t such a long way back home but it sure has been a rocky one. Mantle learned her chops singing backup behind Mom. Mom being noted activist singer/songwriter Arlene Mantle who gave young Lynn a solid grounding in the phrasings and nuances of folk music. At 16, she took it to the street, singing with hippie busker friends and playing acoustic solo sets on classical guitar at coffee houses. Like most teenagers, Lynn at 16 was interested in a wide range of music not part of Mom’s vocabulary, acts like Flora Purim, Pheobe Snow, Oscar Peterson, and Keith Jarrett. Her first notable single, “”Motivate Yourself” was penned for inclusion on Arlene Mantle’s Class Act, a collection of socially conscious material. It later wound up as the lead song on the soundtrack for a Toronto Board of Education movie. When the kid finally busted out, Lynn went straight for New Wave pop band Cyan. That the music was naked of social or political content was a standard act of teenage rebellion. That it gave the young singer the space and opportunity to stretch out her understanding of melody and phrasing was a side effect of wanting to rock out. In 1983, having outgrown Cyan’s peppy pop, Mantle started gigging as The Lynn Mantle Band, did the Toronto club circuit, playing venues such as El Mocambo, Grossmans, Lees Palace. With enough original material for a full show, a short-lived new lineup called Fine Line went out to road test the material. Shortly thereafter Mantle put together Character Witness, the rock band she’d been growing into all this time. Character Witness was Seri G (keys), Derek Gottfried (guitar), Kojo Ferguson (bass), Dale Harrison (drums) and fronted by Mantle’s hot rock doll act, quickly established itself as one of the city’s must see acts. But the pressures of raising a family and keeping a hit touring band out on the circuit began to short-circuit the song writing and at that point she decided to shelve Character Witness. “Creative control comes with a price. It was my project and it fell to me to hustle up gigs, organize rehearsals, deal with the media and generally keep track of everything. As well, my sons were getting bigger and demanding more time and attention”. Over the years Mantle was able to keep her boat afloat with session work, live performances and events production, working with a slew of variously-talented folk, among them Molly Johnson, Bruce Cockburn, Glass Tiger, Tony Springer, Jeff Healey, John Alcorn, the legendary Long John Baldry, Danny Marks and the iconoclastic Mary Margaret O’Hara. Off the road and focusing on raising her sons and writing, she nevertheless still found time to organize, stage manager and make a name for herself on the socially conscious scene. Among the myriad events she worked on: National Media Relations for Earth Day Canada (1998), PR/Media Relations/Organizer for Planet Indie Film Festival (1999), stage managed the Juno Awards. helped organize and performed in events for Housing Coalition of Toronto, Rape Crisis Center, Mayworks and organized and played at the Bain Co-op Street festivals every year. Mantle was the architect of and brought to life The Red ribbon Road Shows, a touring caravan of artists performing to benefit the anti-Aids campaign. Once she gets into something, Mantle is committed to the max; organizing and stage managing 10 shows to benefit the anti-Aids committee in the Toronto area in the first year alone Presently working as a solo, Lynn speculates that a Character Witness reunion may not be out of the question. “I’m still the primary writer but I’m always open to collaboration. I’ve enjoyed working with a variety of writers; I’ll be working on material with Tony Springer and Robert Priest, and that’s a fairly wide range. “I will have to use some different players but the essence of the band will remain the same. That said, I wouldn’t mind hooking up with (guitarist) Phil X, who brought so much to the Character Witness studio tracks. I’m hoping to cut some tracks live at Hugh’s Room during a date there in the fall, to give the album a different feel. Using a combination of fresh musicians and people I’ve worked with before will reflect where I am heading, where I am now and my musical journey thus far”. All this musical diversity and the struggles of being a single mom come together with a profound sense of faith to inform Mantle’s songs. Coupled with powerhouse pipes and a way of getting inside a lyric and making it her own, Lynn Mantle will be making her presence felt ……..30…….