Just a thought… Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, What! You too? I thought I was the only one. [C.S. Lewis]
I am so excited for someone today and I have to share this with you. Because this is a big, HUGE red letter day and this woman is ALL heart.
Jann Arden is a national treasure. I don’t say this because she’s my friend. I know we’re not close buddies or even really more than simply media acquaintances, but she’s someone I hold in my heart in a very special place. When she shared the struggles of watching her dear Good Mother (as her song title says) slip away due to the ravages of Alzheimers, I hurt for her. When she mourned the passing of her mom, I mourned with her. Thanks to Instagram, I’ve shared dog walks down her wintry Alberta country road.
Back in 2003, I got to know her a little bit when she accompanied Bob Magee and me on a CHFI Listener Trip to Jamaica.
Today, it’s a new journey – and I join Jann in celebration.
Imagine, in this country or any other, getting your own eponymous TV show. Now imagine that you’re just one week shy of turning 57, and you’ve got a TV show: a sitcom that is loosely based on your real life. Now imagine it’s good. Really effing good. (I spell that out even though Jann would use the actual word. ) In fact, it’s hilarious. We hoped it would be just good. It’s really good. Have I said that enough times?
I became a fan of Jann through her music, like just about everyone else. But as I read her blogs (which inspired me to start mine 16 years ago this month) I got to know her sense of humour, her sensitive side and her wise-hearted and wise-assed views of things. She made me a braver writer; she showed me that there’s strength in vulnerability. And today she’s showing me never to give up on your dreams.
When I wrote Mourning Has Broken, I wondered who to get to write a Foreword. I was fortunate enough to have in my inbox names of prominent Canadian women like Jeanne Beker, Amy Sky and Marilyn Denis; I could easily have called upon my good friend Lisa Brandt (who has contributed to the audio book) or to have reached out to myriad other people who’ve been kind to me during my time on – and off – the radio. But it was my friends at HarperCollins who suggested I reach out to Jann.
This was last year, when Jann was, no doubt, up to her beautifully tattooed eyebrows getting this TV show pilot shot. She had heartache at home with her mother’s steady decline and she was also promoting her own book, Feeding My Mother. But I decided to take a chance and ask. She responded that she couldn’t promise anything fast, but she’d try.
Months passed and our publishing deadline was upon me. I was reluctant to reach out to Jann, but a nudge from HarperCollins made me DM her on Twitter and see how it was going. She hunkered down and read the book in one weekend, then wrote me back to say how deeply moving it was. A few days later, there was the foreword we’d hoped for, right there in my inbox.
Here are a few lines from that beautiful response.
How do you reconcile the sudden death of your only daughter? How do you also navigate a marriage and a job and myriad friendships and errands and appointments and just day-to-day breathing in and out? Erin bares all and in doing so gives us the opportunity to share our own lossesmaking us feel less alone in our own rivers of grief.
(Just two months ago, as we were finishing the audio version of the book – due out in one month – I again reached out to Jann, who generously recorded her Foreword. On amazon.ca the audio version is listed as narrated by me and Jann Arden. I hope people don’t buy it hoping to hear more Jann, but trust me, those first few pages read in her voice are worth everything to me.)
Now I’d like to shine a light on her new endeavour, just as she did for me.
Here’s a link to a trailer for Jann’s new show, called simply Jann, that airs tonight at 8:30 EDT on CTV. You could watch it online at CTV.ca, but I would love her to see some tremendous ratings tonight. This show is going to be a hit and I hope that you’ll give it a watch.
You’ve seen her hilarious brand of very real and relatable comedy through her appearances with Rick Mercer on his CBC show; you’ve enjoyed her as host and guest on numerous specials. Perhaps, like me, you’ve been lucky enough to spend time in Jann’s presence. Tonight, you get to do it again.
Good luck, dearest Jann. You’re one in a million – or 37 million to be a little more precise – and all I can do is wish you every success; you’ve earned it. You work hard, your heart is in everything you do and you believe there’s truly bounty enough for all. Plus, you’re a great comedic actress. (Trust me: Jann Caught by the Fuzz is about all you need to know….)
I love this woman and I hope you love Jann as much as we did, having seen an early version. Never stop believing in your dreams.