Jo-Ann Lawton, Donna Creighton, and Amber Cunningham form the Sirens, a popular folk trio from London, Ontario (they are named, of course, for the mythic creatures whose enchanted voices lure sailors to their deaths). Their enchanting music contains echoes of folk, celtic, country, pop, jazz, chanty, and other musical idioms, with heavy emphasis on perfect vocal harmonies. Think of the Dixie Chicks crossed with the Andrews Sisters, and stage banter that often recalls the Marx Brothers or the early Beatles.
The original band consisted of Jo-Ann, Donna, and Nora Galloway. This line-up released two albums, Sirens in 1997 and Smilin' in 1999, later re-released by Borealis in 2000 with different cover art.
After Nora quit, the band went through several roster changes and, while they continued to grow in popularity, playing the opening ceremonies for the 2001 Canada Summer Games, they never quite recaptured the stage presence of the original line-up.
In 2002, Jo-Ann and Donna were joined by Amber Cunningham, a younger singer studying at the Royal Conservatory of Music. Since then, they have become popular on the folk circuit in Canada and the United States, and seem likely candidates for major success.
Jo-Ann sings and plays guitar, bass, and bodhran. She lists her influences as Ella Fitzgerald, k.d. lang, the Andrews Sisters and the Barenaked Ladies. Her gray hair allows us to make her the group's representative of the crone.
Donna sings and plays guitar, recorder, tin whistle, bodhran and other percussion. Her influences include Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Gershwin, and Bach. She also briefly appeared on a London tv talk show in the 1990s, as "Confused Folk Girl," who provided musical seques to commercials and protested the clear-cutting of baby seals. She has two older children, so she nicely fills the role of mother.
Amber sings and plays recorder, bodhran, and percussion. Her influences include Rodgers and Hart, Ani Difranco, and Bjork. As she is in her twenties, we shall call her the band's maiden, and not press the matter. Amber Cunningham left the band in the summer of 2005 to pursue other career and personal options.
August, 2004: Live at the Ugly Mug Cafe proved their most successful album to date, and the Sirens followed it with a tour. Lawton and Creighton also began writing music for other artists. In 2003, they contributed songs to and performed in Borderlands, a show which combined music, choreography, and art.
At present, the two remaining women intend to continue the Sirens as a duo, and in June of 2007 released the album Look Up.
Live at the Ugly Mug (2004)
Look Up (2007)
The Sirens' website is at www.sirens3.com