The Windsor Star - November 1, 1991
SOMETIMES, when she casts a furtive glance around the meeting room, Lee Aaron can't believe her eyes.
Not only is the Toronto rock singer the only female member of the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences board of directors, but she's the only active performer sitting as a director on the 18-person board.
"They wanted an artist who can articulate. Unfortunately, a lot of them can't," Aaron said in a recent interview. "So, I figured it was worth a try. I do feel a bit out of my element sometimes, with all the business moguls."
Yet Aaron, who performs at California's Roadhouse Sunday, carries much more weight in the industry than her flirtatious videos and simplistic, good-time rock tunes suggest.
At her third CARAS meeting of 1990, around the time record labels were submitting names for Juno nominations, Aaron instigated some major changes.
"ONE THING that's always bothered me - now this isn't self-serving, so please don't get the wrong idea - is that we didn't have a hard-rock category at the Junos. There are a lot of rock and metal groups in this country making records and touring, who have never been taken seriously. I said that if we have a separate reggae category, we need a hard-rock category, for God's sake."
(Indeed, Aaron got a nomination in the newly created Best Hard Rock/Metal Album category at the 1991 Junos in March, but Rush won the award).
Another Juno winner, Maestro Fresh-Wes, can thank Aaron for the creation of the Best Rap Album category.
"Whether rap is a passing fad or not, it's the responsibility of the board to recognize current music, and what's going on in the streets."
While still wearing her director's pin-stripes, Aaron got in a shot on another topic close to her heart - the necessity for Canadian hard-rock and metal bands to seek sanctuary in the U.S.:
"How many hard-rock bands from Canada can you think of who have really made it as superstars besides Rush and Triumph? If Guns N' Roses were from Toronto, I bet they'd have a hard time getting a Canadian record deal."
Though she is doing well in Europe, Japan and Australia, Aaron has had a tougher time than most in trying to crack the U.S.
HER 1987 album, Lee Aaron, was to have been distributed by Atlantic, but Aaron wouldn't accept the "ridiculous" offer. When asked why 1989's Bodyrock, which has sold more than 200,000 copies in Canada, wasn't picked up in the U.S., Aaron was not amused. She vows the same thing won't happen with her latest disc, Some Girls Do, which has just hit the 50,000, gold sales plateau in Canada.
"It's tough to talk about. There was a lot of politics involved, and for me to get into the hows and whys of it, I'd probably lose some friends," she says. "But at this point, I figure I've hung in there so long, I figure I'm not just going to get a (U.S.) deal. But I'm going to get the right U.S. deal."
Actually, the elusive U.S. deal is about the only part of her career that Aaron hasn't shaped the way she wants.
The infamous fur-bikini days of 1983 are long gone. The then 21-year-old was convinced that appearing in an Aaron The Barbarian cave-girl outfit for her Metal Queen album would be the perfect career move. It sold some albums, but left a lingering effect that Aaron is still feeling.
NONETHELESS, Aaron is completely in control of her image, despite the double entendre in certain songs on Some Girls Do.
Her Sex With Love video has been banned from YTV and a Calgary radio station, but Aaron says they missed the point, because the song rejects the image of casual sex associated with rock 'n' roll.
She should get the guy she met recently at a Toronto restaurant to plead her case.
"He said he was coming to my show that night, and really liked the video for Sex With Love. He said it was a landmark kind of thing, trying to be positive about love. And I said 'Yay! Someone actually gets it'."
Lee Aaron performs at California's Roadhouse, 911 Walker Rd., on Sunday at approximately 10 p.m., following an opening act which hadn't been confirmed at press time. Tickets $13 in advance, available at the bar, or $15 at the door.
© The Windsor Star