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Back in sneakers

Ali Milner returns from productive time at Junos



By Nicole Fitzgerald

Whistler’s Ali Milner slipped out of her celebrity status after a high-heeled and fabulous weekend attending the Junos in Saskatoon.

She gratefully tied on her student status Tuesday afternoon at Whistler Secondary School, donning her comfy sneakers and classic Whistler suit of T-shirt and jeans.

“My feet still hurt from the weekend, but they looked cute,” she laughs.

The EMI recording artist may be a rising star in the community’s eyes, but the singer/songwriter keeps her feet, high heeled or not, firmly on the ground — even though there is plenty to be sky-high excited about.

Only days before, the singing starlet was hanging out with the likes of Billy Talent, talking songwriting with Ron Sexsmith, posing for pictures with Alexisonfire and watching Nelly Furtado accept five awards over two days.

She schmoozed with Canada’s musical royalty at the event and record label after-parties, meeting the likes of Mobile, Best New Band Juno winners who played the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival last year, and Sam Roberts, the Juno host who is coming to the festival mainstage this year.

She met managers, songwriters and Canadian stars, but remains anything but starry eyed. What the Grade 11 student relished most about the weekend is the friends she met.

“I was expecting something similar to my experience at the Toronto Film Festival,” she said. “You expect a lot of big egos at events like this, but I had so much fun. People were so much kinder than I thought they would be. I made some lasting friendships with amazing people. It was so much more than I thought it would be.”

Friends and, most importantly, connections were made to get the west coast talent’s music career off the ground. Milner recently signed to EMI Canada and released her self-titled debut album earlier this winter. She is managed by Zack Werner, the infamous Canadian Idol judge and owner of Venus Records. The album was released with little fanfare in December, however, Milner is now working with Frontside Media, who represents the likes of Jeremy Fisher, to get the 17-year-old into mainstream rotation — although there is nothing ordinary about her music.

Milner’s musicianship moves well beyond her years, traveling through lush tones of jazz originals and covers, including Nirvana’s Lithium, on her new album.

Songwriter became student after the clock struck 3 a.m. on Sunday, sending the Juno after-party mingler to bed before checking out four hours later to fly home.

She brought home contacts, friendships and a cold, but that didn’t stop her from driving to Vancouver Tuesday night for her weekly piano and vocal lessons. She’s got her sneakers tied on tight, ready and waiting for that running stretch at stardom just around the corner.

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