Mortifee, Ann

Mortifee, Ann. Composer, singer, actress, b Durban, South Africa, 30 Nov 1947, naturalized Canadian 1961; BA (British Columbia) 1968. While studying English 1964-8 at the University of British Columbia, she began her career as a folk and blues singer-guitarist at the Bunkhouse. In 1967, with Willie Dunn, she composed the score for George Ryga's play The Ecstasy of Rita Joe and toured as the Musician-Singer in the Vancouver production that played in 1969 at the NAC in Ottawa. In Ottawa she was co-host 1969-70 with David Wiffen for CJOH-TV's 'Both Sides Now'. As a cast member of the revue Love and Maple Syrup, seen at the NAC in 1969, she appeared briefly 1969-70 off-Broadway. Returning to Vancouver, she revised and performed the music of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe for a ballet by Norbert Vesak for the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in 1971. She sang in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris in Vancouver (1972) and New York (1974).

Mortifee also composed scores for The Grey Goose of Silence (by Vesak for the North Carolina Dance Theater), Klee Wyck ('a ballet for Emily Carr,' performed by the Anna Wyman Dance Theatre on CBC TV in 1975), Variations pour une souvenance/Yesterday's Day (1975, produced by Les Grands Ballets Canadiens), and several film and TV productions. She has written several one-woman shows (including the celebrated Journey to Kairos ), the family musical Reflections on Crooked Walking (1982), and the children's opera A Rose Is a Rose (1987, for the COC). She appeared in another musical based on her songs and poetry, The Arabian Knight (1987), produced at the Cleveland Playhouse and seen on PBS TV.

Her performing career also has included 'pop' presentations with Michel Legrand in the USA, similar appearances with symphony orchestras in Canada, and concert and supper club work. One such club appearance at the Royal York Hotel in Toronto was previewed in Toronto (Apr 1986): 'Mortifee is of another time altogether, a romantic who sings of love in the poetic imagery of the ingénue and views the world with a personal vision that alternates wide eyes and hurt glances. Her voice transcends all, though, with a stunning interpretive range that turns these small, private songs into haunting pop arias'.