Her idols include musician types such as Tom Petty and Neil Young, yet Kathleen Edwards hopes one day to hook up with another idol of hers: Sharon Fortis.

Edwards and Fortis, the mother of Alicia Ross, the 25-year-old Markham, Ont., woman murdered by her next-door neighbour in 2005, have been exchanging e-mails after the Ottawa-born singer-songwriter penned a song titled Alicia Ross on her third full-length effort, Asking For Flowers.

“Before I released the song I wanted to make sure if it was OK with her that I named it after her daughter,” Edwards tells Metro. “Sharon Fortis was so much in the forefront in the search for her child. I think it would give (Sharon) comfort to know that Alicia probably wished she was with her mother in her final moments.”

Edwards even auctioned off a signature 160GB iPod that sold for $1,100, with proceeds going to the Alicia Ross Memorial Fund.

“I’m looking forward to meeting (Sharon), if she’s interested in doing that,” Edwards says. “I’m sure there’s going to be a morning when I wake up and my mom won’t be there. That’s where I wrote that song from — for every mother who has a child.”

For good measure, Edwards brought in her mom Margaret as background vocalist on another Asking For Flowers track, I Make The Dough, You Get The Glory — an ode to her touring bandmate, vocalist, Jim Bryson. “My mom brought out those ‘70s soul singers in her singing — WOOOOOOOO!!!” Edwards demonstrates with a laugh.

Though Edwards, 29, and married to guitarist/producer Colin Cripps, is enjoying the glory of critical raves and working with many of her heroes — among them producer Jim Scott and keyboardist Benmont Tench, from Petty’s Heartbreakers — she is determined to stay as real as possible. In the break between Asking For Flowers and her 2005 CD Back To Me, the Ottawa native moved to the Hamilton area, tended to her garden and worked in a Niagara winery.

She still carries some of the rebelliousness of her youth — she declares on The Cheapest Key that, “F is my favourite letter, as you know,” while Sure As S—t immortalizes another favourite expletive in a love ballad. But Edwards admits that, “Now that I’m getting older, I feel I’m gaining a bigger sense of responsibility to be somebody who looks out for other people. Because I hope that someone would be looking out for me.”

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