Mackenzie Sawyer

Image Carissa and Ben Photography at  carissaandben.com .

Image Carissa and Ben Photography at carissaandben.com.

I never imagined in a million years that I would become a musician. I grew up in a hard-working military family. My dad served in the United States Air Force, so we pretty much lived where the work took us. We lived all over the place. Moving around a lot as a kid really made me cling to the summers we spent at our family’s cabin in Sioux Narrows Ontario. We spent our summers out in the woods with very few electronics, just enjoying being kids. One thing we couldn’t get enough of was free diving. Since the cabin is right on Lake of The Woods, we were always in the water.

My love for music ultimately stems from the day I found my mum’s guitar. The moment I picked up that dusty old Yamaha I was hooked. I spent years glued to her old dime store music books of John Denver, Paul Simon, Gordan Lightfoot. I was in love. I began learning Spanish-style and classical guitar. And I even took on a few small-town gigs, playing at the Timber Lodge on Wednesdays during the summer and playing backup once or twice for aspiring Canadian musicians. But after I got picked up by a talent scout for modelling/acting, I set music on a backburner.

While working as a model in L.A. I made connections with a few agencies looking for musicians. I was a kid looking for her “big break”. But I had never sung without my guitar before, and unfortunately the agency was extremely underwhelmed. I was told that I should just stick to modelling. And for years I did just that. Someone told me I wasn’t good enough and at 16 I believed them.

I first became acquainted with Anúna during a three-day workshop with Lucy Champion. I was blown away when I was encouraged to use skills I had acquired from other parts of my life. I learned that something as simple as posture or manner of walking could have such a drastic effect on singing technique.

I never thought my background in competitive swimming and free diving could be put to use in the way that I sing. In the first few weeks I attended rehearsals I caught myself thinking, “how could swimming possibly have anything to do with proper singing technique”. The answer is ‘the breath’. The breath is EVERYTHING. As a small-town garage band musician, all I ever focused on was hitting the right note. It had never occurred to me that my body itself was an instrument.

Every aspect of Anúna’s technique is intentional.

Anúna is unlike any ensemble I have ever come across. It is entirely unique in that the accessibility of the music is unparalleled. Singing with the group has allowed me to rediscover my potential and urged me to use the criticism that had once distanced me from my passion for music as inspiration. Working with these incredible musicians, on music that holds such intense meaning is such an irreplaceable experience. Anúna has given me the same sense of excitement and discovery I had once felt as a child holding that dusty old Yamaha.