FOR blues and roots songstress Anna Scionti, music is so much more than a career.
More even than a passion.
For Anna it has been truly healing.
She was just a teenager when both her parents tragically died and, since then, her guitar has been a refuge.
“It’s medicine for me,” she reflected.
“I think music can do that for a lot of people, it can make you happy, it can make you cry – it’s very good for the soul.”
This early brush with grief is a major theme of her debut album, Orphan Diary, which will feature in her sets at Echuca-Moama Winter Blues Festival this weekend.
“If you listen to my album, a lot of the songs are quite personal,” she said.
“With any loss you kind of reflect on that and a lot of songs have come out of that.”
Playing cigar box guitar, resonator, lap steel and stomp, Anna’s tunes are honest and raw with an earthy, grungy edge.
It’s a sound that’s already reeling in fans across the country.
Her first release, a self-titled EP, debuted at number two on the Australian Blues and Roots Airplay charts.
She has also shared the stage with top blues names including Fiona Boyes and Geoff Achison and been a regular on the Blues Train and festivals throughout Australia.
Now based in Melbourne, the buzz of the local blues scene is a far cry from her quiet country beginnings in East Gippsland.
While she would be the only musician to come from her family, Anna can still recall certain vinyls as a soundtrack for her early years.
“I do remember spinning a lot of vinyl in my youth. We played a lot of classic music – Supertramp and a bit of JJ Cale, that sort of stuff,” she said.
Anna started playing music when she was about 10, beginning with drums in the high school band before moving to guitar.
She’s explored the full spectrum of music genres throughout her career, beginning with acoustic folk in her early teens and later forming a pop rock duo.
Finally, six years ago, she found her true love in blues and roots.
“I’ve always loved the blues – Big Mama Thornton, Junior Wells and, of course, the three Kings — BB King, Freddy King and Albert King,” Anna said.
“And recently I’ve come right back to playing the blues and listening to a lot of old blues artists which has kind of inspired where I’m at now. So I guess my music has come full circle.”
For Anna, blues has come naturally.
“My father died when I was 13 and my mum died when I was 18 so for me, singing the blues came pretty easy, having to deal with grief at a young age,” she said.
In addition to the more traditional six-string guitars, Anna has her own collection of handmade cigar box guitars — all played with a bottleneck slide.
And varying from four-strings all the way to Anna’s one-string diddley bow (and if you have no idea what that is, head to Anna’s show this weekend).
And each one brings with it its own sound.
“It’s very organic,’’ Anna explained.
‘‘I run them through an amplifier so I have them a little bit dirty but it’s open tuning and you can get some fantastic different riffs and driving sounds,” Anna said.
While she admits Melbourne is now home – has been for the past 20 years – Anna welcomes any chance to return to the country.
And Echuca-Moama Winter Blues is no exception.
“My roots go back to the country,” she said.
“I love leaving the city and am looking forward to going to Echuca.”
Anna Scionti will play on:
Today 5.30-6.30pm and 7-8pm at Antonios
Saturday, July 27, 11.30am-12.30 pm at Beechworth Bakery
Saturday, July 27, 4-4.45pm at The Shamrock Hotel front bar
Saturday, July 27, 5.15-6pm at The Shamrock Hotel front bar
Sunday, July 28, 12-12.45pm at The Star Hotel/Gypsy Bar High St stage
Sunday, July 28, 1.15-2pm at The Star Hotel/Gypsy Bar High St stage