‘I was totally surprised’: Song co-written by former Winnipegger makes Obama’s 2021 Summer Playlist

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WINNIPEG —
A Winnipeg-born singer-songwriter got an unexpected surprise when a song she co-wrote ended up on Barack Obama’s 2021 Summer Playlist.

“Frozen” performed by Sabrina Claudio and written by Claudio, Alexander Tanasijczuk, Derek Renfroe, and Winnipeg-born Hayley Gene Penner made the former U.S. president’s 38-song playlist. Other artists included on the list are George Harrison, Rihanna, The Rolling Stones, and Joni Mitchell, to name a few.

Penner said she found out about the inclusion from a flood of messages from friends and her co-writers on the song.

“I was totally surprised,” Penner told CTV News. “If I’m picking a president that I want to listen to music that I’ve written, he’s definitely the one.”

Adding to the shock – the fact that the song was written and released five years ago.

“It’s funny, ’cause songs can have a whole other life way after you’ve written them,” Penner said.

Penner’s been working as a singer and songwriter in Los Angeles for nearly 10 years. Born in Winnipeg and daughter to iconic children’s performer Fred Penner, she comes by her passion for music honestly.

She said she began working with Claudio soon after the artist moved to Los Angeles. She co-wrote Claudio’s EP and part of her second album.

“It was an early relationship that we really dug into,” she said.

Penner said “Frozen” is a soulful, sexy song that captures a certain state of mind while being around someone you love.

“I can’t remember what the exact starting point was, but I think we were imaging those moments where you’re with a loved one and it feels like everything else is moving fast and you’re just sort of slow and in the midst of it,” she said.

Penner plans to release new music in the fall and write a second book. Her debut memoir “People You Follow” was released last year. It offers an intimate and honest look at the hidden side of the music industry, questionable relationships and growing up as the child of a celebrity.

She also plans to pay more visits to her hometown, having fallen in love with a Winnipegger during the pandemic.

“Now I come back pretty often to see my Winnipeg honey,” she said. “It really feels perfect too, ’cause my whole family is here too.”

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