Elizabeth Shepherd spent much of 2010 touring in Japan, Europe, Canada and the US, selling out legendary clubs from Tokyo to Madrid to Detroit. And now she’s finally coming back to Vancouver for the first time in two years. On Thursday March 31, her globe-trotting band will roll into St James Hall.
The two-time JUNO nominee is touring in support of her hugely successful album Heavy Falls the Night, which was long listed for the 2010 Polaris Music Prize. “Seven Bucks”, the first single off the album climbed high up on the Tokyo Hot 100 chart last year, well ahead of artists like Norah Jones and Vampire Weekend. Elizabeth was nominated for “Jazz Artist of the Year” by the Independent Music Awards earlier this month.
Elizabeth Shepherd pushes the boundaries of what is considered conventional jazz, all the while creating a sound completely her own. From London to Tokyo, Elizabeth has captivated audiences and critics on both sides of the pond. Her Juno nominated debut album, Start To Move continues to receive critical acclaim, and was voted the Top 3 Jazz Albums of the Year by the listeners of the Gilles Peterson Show on BBC Radio 1 in 2006.
Raised by ministers of the Salvation Army, an early exposure to the brass band sounds mixed with her love for classical and house music, disco and hip hop, lay the foundations for one soulful musician. Trained extensively in conservatories from across Canada to France, Elizabeth completed a degree in jazz piano from McGill University, Montreal. Initially entering the music program to pursue a career in music therapy she quickly discovered her extensive talent in songwriting and performing. She returned to Toronto in 2004 and worked as a server at a piano bar. Her serving job proved an asset to her musical career- once management realized Elizabeth’s talent, she quickly became the restaurant’s key entertainer. Organically and innocently enough, the Elizabeth Shepherd Trio was formed with Scott Kemp on bass, Colin Kingsmore on drums and Elizabeth Shepherd on piano and vocals.
The Elizabeth Shepherd Trio became a staple group in Toronto’s soul jazz scene, performing all over town in jazz and other concert venues alike. Upon joining forces with Do Right! label owner John Kong, the Trio was invited into the studio to record a demo. But what was supposed to be a demo turned into a jam session resulting in the album Start To Move. The following few years established the EST locally and saw them gain recognition internationally, performing on BBC Radio 1, sold out shows at London’s Jazz Cafe, and a week long residency at the prestigious Cotton Club in Tokyo, Japan the summer of 2007.
Her follow-up full-length album Parkdale is an older, wiser Shepherd teamed with her ever youthful, graceful soul. The mood of Parkdale tracks the emotional whirlwind of human experience. The album explores what everyone fears the most: total openness, divulging your innermost humanity. “Parkdale,” the title track, explores the nuances of brokeness within the community. The album leads the listener through it all with stories of personal growth alongside the evolution of a neighbourhood in transition. “I’ve always found strange the massive discrepancy between the highly emotional events that shape our personal lives, that we generally don’t share, and the completely mundane events that insidiously make their way into conversation.
As far as being a “jazz performer”, Elizabeth does not count herself as one to be defined by a particular genre; her music comes straight from the soul, and is more than just what she does, but what she loves and who she is.
Mar 15: Sault Ste Marie, ON – LopLop’s
Mar 18: Winnipeg, MB – The Park Theatre
Mar 20: Saskatoon, SK – The Bassment
Mar 22: Edmonton, AB – Jeffrey’s Café and Wine Bar
Mar 23: Red Deer, AB – The Matchbox Theatre
Mar 24: Canmore, AB – Communitea
Mar 25: Kamloops, BC – Caffe Motivo
Mar 26: Penticton, BC – The Dream Café
Mar 27: Courtenay, BC – Elk’s Hall
Mar 29: Victoria, BC – Hermann’s Jazz Club
Mar 30: Duncan, BC – The Garage Showroom
Mar 31: Vancouver, BC – St. James Hall
Apr 1: Vancouver, BC – Official showcase at the CONTACT Conference
Apr 2: Kelowna, BC – The Minstrel Café
Apr 3: Calgary, AB – Cantos Music Foundation
Apr 4: Medicine Hat, AB – Mauro`s -
Apr 5: Regina, SK – The Artesian on 13th
Apr 8: Thunder Bay, ON – The Apollo
April 17: Toronto, ON – Trinity St. Paul’s
Elizabeth’s tour is generously supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and sponsored by Exclaim and Opportunity International.
For tickets and more information please go to http://elizabethshepherd.com/home/tour-dates