Born outside Montreal in Sweetsburg, Quebec, Lynn Miles grew up in a musical home. Her father played the harmonica and listened to his jazz collection while her mother was a lover of both opera and country music. Miles’ mother recalled once that she knew when Lynn had finally fallen asleep in her crib: Lynn stopped singing. During her elementary school years, Miles learned guitar, violin, flute and piano. She began performing in public at around the age of sixteen and when she was in her early twenties she studied with an opera singer to strengthen her voice and enrolled for a time at Carleton University in Ottawa where she studied classical music history and theory. Years later, Miles put this training to good use while serving as a voice teacher at the Ottawa Folklore Center. While at the center, she taught voice to many students including a then fourteen-year-old Alanis Morrisette. The lessons came just prior to the making of Morrisette’s first album.
Though Miles had been writing her own songs since the age of 10, she didn’t end up recording any of her own material until 1987 when she cut 9 original compositions for a demo at Happyrock Studio in Ottawa. An avid reader and music-lover, those early recordings were inspired by the books she loved to read, and the music she listened to on the radio. Miles continues to draw inspiration from music and literature to this day. On her latest album (Love Sweet Love) for example, the opening track, “Flames of Love,” was inspired by a long period of reading Sufi poetry. "I’m fascinated by the way the Sufis write about love," Miles says. "Their love is spiritual, and I reinterpreted it and wrote ‘Flames of Love,’ about jumping in the fire, letting go and not being afraid and letting it get hot and not caring about what other people think. Just really going for it." The idea – and the song itself – is exhilarating and exciting, yet full of hidden corners and alleyways from where the joy can be blindsided without notice. But as Miles notes, "You don't learn from happiness."
If that's true, one gets the sense that Miles has learned a lot. In a career that has seen her move from Ottawa to Nashville to Los Angeles and back to Ottawa, and release albums as varied as the slick Night in a Strange Town (co-produced by Larry Klein, of Shawn Colvin and Joni Mitchell fame, and featuring renowned west-coast studio musicians David Piltch, Dean Parks, John Cody and Tal Bergman) and the stark Unravel, Miles has consistently been unflinching in putting it all out there: the unbridled ecstasy of new-found love, the fragile process of sweeping up the pieces when it breaks.
The accolades, meanwhile, continue to pour in. Her 1996 album, Slightly Haunted, was a Billboard Top 10 Pick of the Year. Unravel (released 2001) was praised by critics – All Music Guide describing it as "sounding as if it's been produced by Daniel Lanois in an Appalichian town" and "a diamond in the rough." Canadian folk-music icon Valdy once said, "I'm sorry for all the heartache she has to go through in order to get those juices going, but, yeah, she's marvelous." The New York Times may have said it best: "Lynn Miles makes being forlorn sound like a state of grace."
In 2006 she released Love Sweet Love on Red House. The album is a road album with songs like “Night Drive”, “Sweet and Tender Heart”, “8 Hour Drive” and “Never Coming Back” that trace the metaphorical journey of the human heart, sketching a roadmap of modern relationships and heartache. Miles recorded Love Sweet Love with a first-rate collection of Canadian musicians: Unravel producer, guitarist, longtime-friend and collaborator Ian LeFeuvre and drummer Peter Von Althen (both of the Canadian band Starling); Chelsea Bridge double-bassist John Geggiem; Prairie Oyster guitarist Keith Glass and violinist James Stephens all lend their talents to Love Sweet Love. The result of this collaboration is a warm, hopeful sound in perfect harmony with Miles’ smart, heartbreaking lyrics.