Calling All Angels

Jane Siberry gets ethereal.

Ethereal. If you only get one word to describe Jane Siberry, that's it.

If you get two more words, you might try artist and businesswoman. Another? Perhaps brilliant, as in her distinctive songs and luminescent sound.

Of course, describing Siberry in single words is impossible. Describing her music is even tougher. Maybe brainy pop/trance? Or Laura Nyro meets King Crimson?

"They might not think they know me," Siberry says of the general public, "but they might because of Pay It Forward ("Calling All Angels") and The Crow ("It Can't Rain All the Time") soundtracks."

Siberry is getting ready for one of her rare tours, this one in support of her latest album. City is a compilation of collaborations, including works with Peter Gabriel, Joe Jackson, classical violinist Nigel Kennedy and others, including Barney (yes, the original purple one).

Siberry recorded for Warner/Reprise from 1988 to 1996, drawing critical praise but modest sales. Warner Brothers tried to market her as a pop singer. Later, they positioned her alongside conceptual artist Laurie Anderson and Talking Heads' David Byrne, aided by Brian Eno, who helped produce Siberry's 1993 album When I Was a Boy. This spring, Rhino Records is planning to release a two-disc anthology of her Warner/Reprise works.

"They didn't quite know what to do with me," Siberry says of her major-label days. "When I left Warner Brothers, I felt surprisingly light and free. I was joyfully ignorant."

Financially strapped, she started her own label, SHEEBA Records, and became one of the first artists to sell albums exclusively from her Web site.

"I had no idea how hard it would be," she admits. "Five years later, we're still in existence. And I know a heck of a lot more."

Siberry's early influences included the Byrds and Beach Boys, plus fellow Canadians Neil Young and Joni Mitchell.

"Then it depended after awhile on who my boyfriend was," Siberry says. "So I went through phases of Moody Blues; Emerson, Lake and Palmer; King Crimson."

After the North American phase of her tour, Siberry hopes to continue on to Japan, Australia and the United Kingdom.

"It sure seems a luxury to me," she says of the opportunity to earn a living as an artist. "I'll never take for granted again the time that I get to spend in that space creating things. Efficiency is a beautiful thing, but it's been a mixture of choice and no-choice."

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