This morning, walking through the streets of Toronto with my favourite headphones on, I realized what my ultimate walking song is. (This is a super important realization.) The song is September by Earth Wind and Fire. Not only is it fabulous in every way, it’s also the perfect pace for big long strides that sit just behind the beat. It makes me walk all groovy: not too fast so I can still enjoy the view, and with a bit of back end swagger. I suddenly feel like I’m going somewhere really important, and the world better watch out!
This is useful for timely jaunts to the grocery store. (Singing loudly will also clear a sidewalk I’ve discovered.) It’s also a useful metaphor for moving through this living that we’re all in the midst of. Big long strides might push you forward, but groove connects you to the earth. In my experience, these two forces are best served together…it’s when the good stuff happens.
At the moment, I’m walking toward the release of a new CD with my long time friend and brilliant pianist Bill Brennan. Trying to keep all of this in mind as we get closer to the drop date, because I know it will help me enjoy the view. I’ve got this feeling we’re going somewhere really important, and the world better watch out!
I love September. This is really my favourite time of year, and I think it’s because it always feels like the beginning of something. This is usually when I put my nose back to the grindstone after a summer of adventure. I’ll pick apples and bake pie, and marvel at how much the light has changed, and then take stock of a new season of gigs, and escapades, and start dreaming about what should happen next. Going through this process right now, I’m feeling humbled and grateful for the incredible people that I get to make music with, and crazy excited about the projects I’ve got cooking.
The last few months I’ve been drowning in a project that is monumentally beautiful to me. It’s simple and somewhat traditional jazz record with my wonderful friend and monster pianist/composer Bill Brennan. We’re aiming for a fall release in both St. Johns and Toronto, so keep your eyes peeled for news of those celebrations, and the touring that will follow. We would love to see you at a show.
What’s this new record like? Well, some of the songs are original, many are from the jazz standards repertoire, and there are even a sprinkling of reimagined hits from the 1970s that we have totally messed with. I think I was most excited about the process because there was absolute freedom and trust in the laying down of these tunes. Each one was recorded live off the floor, and that’s a dangerous idea in these days of autotune and quantizing! When I listen back, I hear people playing together in a room and taking lots of chances. I hear the air between them and the smiles on their faces, the creaks of their instruments and the occasional sharp intake of breath…and I hear musicians who are listening hard. It’s realness. I think the world might just enjoy a little more of that!
I’ll keep you posted on the progress with footage, and tasty sample tracks over the summer. I hope this record finds its way into your ears…because I’m quite sure it will make you feel something.
I’ve played in some pretty remarkable places over the last few months. It was a super busy season, with lots of symphony dates in Canada and the USA. I love singing with orchestras…and I have difficulty articulating just how powerful it is to front a band of that size and stature, to become part of their collective for an evening or two. It never ceases to amazing me actually. The other thing that is consistently amazing is the number of delightful people I encounter on these gigs. Characters, inspirations, giant hearts, geniuses…I’ve met all kinds. I think my plan is to start sharing some stories and photographs on this website soon. I think you might like to meet them too.
Stay tuned. Thanks for stopping by!
PS For anyone in London Ontario, I’ll be performing at the Grand House Party on June 22. It’s at the Grand Theatre and it’s a benefit for the womens’ shelter Anova. It’s always an honour to play this show, and the band is ridonculous. Come out if you can!
I love September: I am a Virgo, so it makes a bit of sense. I just love the slight chill in the air, the promise of trees ablaze in colour, and the skies that are either crystal clear or the best kind of brooding. This month I’m also looking forward to spending some time with my pals Kathryn Rose and Joel Schwartz. We’re part of a show at Toronto’s Hugh’s Room Live, that is going to be completely spectacular. It’s a celebration of Prince, in all his glory, and some of Toronto’s finest are going to be gracing the stage. I gotta say, the repertoire is daunting! I don’t think any of his songs stay in a single time signature, and his melodies are a workout for any singer…but I think the danger is going to work in our favour. If you’re in Toronto on Sept 8th, come join us! Thanks to Michael Wrycraft for having us on the bill!
Oh hi! Suddenly, autumn has flown by and the dark days of winter are upon us. I happen to love these dark days, all wild and unabashed: the smell of first snow, the yearning to stay in bed, the high frequencies of coloured Christmas lights, and the visiting of family and friends that triggers my intense need to cook too much food. It all makes sense to me…and I’m learning how to creatively deal with left overs.
So many of my songs have been written in this time of year. I can’t exactly say why, but I can speculate that the weight of the solstice coupled with the proximity to near and dear, makes my heart sing in ways that it couldn’t in the heat of summer. Winter calls for the distinct cocoon of a slow 6/8, and the best kind of navel gazing. Darkness reminds me to look down and value the light in my life. I am so fortunate to be in the orbit of certain souls…
What holiday madness am I looking forward to? Well, on December 11th I’ll be joining the immaculate fray of “We Sing For Their Supper”, the annual Daily Bread Food Bank fundraiser at Lula Lounge. I’ll also be playing some fabulous holiday favourites with the Philharmonic in Calgary on the 15th, with a host of fine musical cohorts that continuously inspire me. And it wouldn’t feel like the holidays without a whole bunch of impromptu caroling. We only have one month to sing these songs, so I’ll be showing up in living rooms and kitchens and skating rinks, and streetcars…humming, not so softly to myself, the soundtrack of December. Maybe I’ll see you there?
Fresh back from an inspiring trip to the Rockies and full of new songs. There is nothing like spending time in wild places, and Canada is a treasure trove of natural awesomeness. On this journey I found myself giving an impromptu concert of Sound of Music favourites to a group of hikers, high above the tree line in Banff National Park. (My pride in impersonating Julie Andrews is a well kept secret.) Honestly, it was one of my favourite concerts ever. The thin air and uneven ground made it difficult to sing and dance with abandon, but a voice on the wind at the top of the world is nothing if not honest. Sometimes, music is the only way to make the sound of joy.