Suzie Vinnick. Singer, songwriter, bassist, guitarist, born Saskatoon 26 Apr 1970. Vinnick is largely known for her vocal talents but has also worked as a side musician for various other groups. She is the recipient of ten Maple Blues Awards, and has been internationally recognized for her songwriting. Her music has been featured in television shows, films, and commercials, most notably as the voice of Tim Horton’s commercials.
Growing up in Saskatoon, Vinnick began playing guitar at a young age. In high school, she played the tenor saxophone in concert band and bass guitar in jazz band. By the time she was eighteen years old, Vinnick was running local blues sessions in Saskatoon.
Ottawa and Early Success
Suzie Vinnick moved to Ottawa in the summer of 1991 to perform as bassist with Tony D. and his Cool Band. Though she had planned to return home after the summer, she stayed in Ottawa where she quickly became a mainstay in the city’s blues scene. Vinnick was featured performing bass and vocals on Tony D.’s 1992 album Dig Deep.
After two years with Tony D., Vinnick left to concentrate on original material. Her first album, Angel in the Sidelines, was released in 1994 and expanded her blues style to include more folk and roots elements. In support of the album, Vinnick toured North American clubs and festivals including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, the Ottawa Folk Festival, and the Toronto Harbourfront Festival.
Move to Toronto and Continued Success
Vinnick relocated to Toronto in 1999 and began performing with a variety of musicians. In addition to ample studio work as a bassist and vocalist, she formed a vocal group with Elana Harte and Kim Sheppard, and together the trio released And They All Rolled Over in 2000. The group, dubbed VSH, combined folk and pop/rock music. She also joined Betty & the Bobs, a group of Toronto-based musicians and friends that performed a variety of styles including country, blues, gospel and jazz. Vinnick also formed another roots vocal group The Marigolds with Caitlin Hanford and Gwen Swick.
The early 2000s saw Vinnick gain notability as a songwriter. In addition to being featured at the Songwriters Association of Canada’s Bluebird North showcase, her songs were used on the Canadian television series Traders and an HBO feature film No Alibi. Vinnick has earned accolades in various songwriting contests. She co-wrote “All That I Ask For,” which won the grand prize in the Northern California Songwriters Association contest. Additionally, two of her compositions, “The Honey I Want” and “Sometimes I Think I Can Fly,” won the blues category of the International Songwriting Competition in 2005 and 2010 respectively. Her songs were featured in ads for Shoppers Drug Mart, Tetley Tea, Jack in the Box, and Tim Horton’s.
Recordings and awards
In 2002, Vinnick completed work on her second solo album 33 Stars, which helped her secure her first Maple Blues Award for 2003 Female Vocalist of the Year, a category for which she was nominated twice in the late nineties. She was featured on Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Café in February 2003, and has returned to that program a number of times.
Vinnick expanded her discography as The Marigolds released its self-titled debut album in late 2005, while Betty & the Bobs followed with its debut early the next year. Having collaborated with Rick Fines since her time in Ottawa, Vinnick and Fines finally released a duo album titled Nothing Halfway in 2006. The album earned Vinnick 2006 Songwriter of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards where she also took home her second Female Vocalist of the Year and her first Bassist of the Year award.
Suzie Vinnick’s presence in the Toronto scene grew and she was appointed the director of the 22nd Annual Women’s Blues Revue Band for 2008, an event she had been participating in since the mid-nineties. Sandwiched between albums from The Marigolds and VSH, Vinnick finished work on her third solo recording. Released in 2008, Happy Here earned a Juno nomination for Roots & Traditional Album of the Year and helped Vinnick win back-to-back Maple Blues Female Vocalist of the Year awards in 2008 and 2009.
In 2011 Vinnick released her first acoustic-only solo album, Me ‘N’ Mabel which received a Juno nomination for Best Blues Album of the Year. She won the Canadian Folk Music award for Contemporary Singer of the Year, along with two more Maple Blues Awards: Female Vocalist of the Year award and Songwriter of the Year at the Maple Blues Awards. Her first live album, Live in Bluesville, was recorded in 2012 for Sirius XM Radio on B.B. King’s Bluesville channel. The album helped Vinnick win the Maple Blues 2013 Acoustic Act of the Year award. She also won another Maple Blues Female Vocalist of the Year award, bringing her total to six in that category and cementing her position as a leading vocalist in the scene.