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Arden uncovered between magazine covers

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Jann Arden has never been shy about baring her soul. Now she's baring her skin.

The singer-songwriter took it all off for a nude photo set to appear in the April issue of Zoomer Magazine, a Canadian publication aimed at the baby-boomer crowd.

The fact she is touring the country in support of her new covers album, Uncover Me 2, makes for some easy punchlines, she says.

"Everyone has been having fun with that: uncovered takes on a new meaning. It's my butt and my back. There's no boobs or bits or something like that," Arden says over the phone from her home in Springbank, Alta., just west of Calgary.

The 49-year-old knows she is an unlikely pinup and wouldn't just get down to the buff for anyone. The photographer shooting her for the magazine was fellow Canuck musician Bryan Adams, who showed Arden an artsy nude shot of Kim Kardashian sitting on a chaise lounge and asked if she would be interested in trying something like that.

"He said, 'You're such a champion for woman,' and I hate that they are marginalized in fashion. They can't buy clothes. It's a daily barrage of, 'You're not right. You're not pretty.' I'm not doing it for any other reason than for women fighting to find one little part of them they care about. It's something I really believe in. I hate people being so hard on themselves," she says, adding she hadn't told her parents yet.

"I'm worried about my brother in jail. They are going to have these hardened criminals with my ass in there. I can just imagine what he's going to hear."

Arden's brother Duray Richards is currently serving life in prison for the 1992 murder of a Creston, B.C. woman. His arrest occurred shortly after Arden was offered her first record deal and marks the conclusion of her autobiography, Falling Backwards, released in November.

Richards has always maintained his innocence and Arden believes him.

"He's got the Innocence Project working on his behalf," she says. "It's a horrible miscarriage of justice. They have no evidence, no DNA. The RCMP burned all his stuff years ago. When this all comes to light it will be an amazing story. They never had anyone else in their sight -- he was in a small town with a criminal record."

She is as candid and open talking about her brother as she is with other details of her life in her book. There is the revelation about a sexual violation by a cousin when she was 10-years-old; details about growing up with an alcoholic father; stories about the trouble her brother would get into; and anecdotes about her early musical experiences on the bar circuit.

The fact she is as honest and revealing as she is in Falling Backwards won't come as a surprise to her fans, who know her as outspoken, fearless and funny. Her concerts are a mixture of heartbreaking ballads and adult contemporary pop rock broken up by extended monologues that come across like stand-up comedy routines.

Winnipeggers will get their next chance to laugh and cry with Arden when she plays the Pantages Playhouse Theatre Wednesday. Local country-pop duo Keith and Renee will open the show.

"When people start crying because they're laughing so hard it's an indicator these two things are bound for eternity," she says. "I find it's a good way to balance the show. I find people are touched by what I sing; then I speak and say it's OK. It's like a therapy session. I liken it to going to church: you learn something about yourself and are inspired. I'm an ordinary person."

rob.williams@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2012 G6

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