One thing Canada has an abundance of is wonderful singers. A great singer is a great singer regardless of his or her sex, but it's the fairer sex that is most prominent in Canadian jazz these days.
Singers are the ambassadors to the jazz world. They are often the ones standing at the front of the line, welcoming in new jazz-curious music lovers, and they play an important role in building the genre's audience. There are spectacular jazz singers right across the country, contributing to every community, but here are the top five incredible females singing in Canadian jazz today:
1. Emilie-Claire Barlow
Emilie-Claire Barlow has been singing since she was a wee girl. She's what I call a "vocal gymnast" who hits every note she sings with laser precision, regardless of the leap. Barlow is a powerhouse, with fresh ideas and the ability to pull them off with Canada's best jazz musicians, who know that she isn't "just" a singer. Barlow is a musician of extraordinary abilities. In a word: powerhouse.
2. Diana Panton
Hamilton's Diana Panton is recognized for her feather-light voice that trembles at the end of each phrase. She's also known as the hand-picked protegé of one of Canada's most highly regarded jazz musicians, Don Thompson. As an interpreter of beautiful jazz standards, Panton carves her own path – and that's not something just any singer can do. In a word: lovely.
3. Kellylee Evans
Imagine how your life would change if you were a musician with a Juno Award. Kellylee Evans won the 2011 Juno for vocal jazz album of the year and hasn't looked back since. Evans's popularity has grown immensely in both Canada and France over the past few years. In a word: proven.
4. Susie Arioli
When Susie Arioli takes the stage, she owns it. It's paid for in full. Arioli is an interpreter of jazz standards with the unique perspective of Montreal, and the world is listening. In a word: international.
5. Barbra Lica
Barbra Lica is a newcomer to the Canadian jazz scene. She's all of 24 years old and her debut album offers a wide-open door to a career that should have her singing to crowds throughout Canada and around the world. I'd describe her as Canada's Stacey Kent (one of the world's most successful jazz singers today). Lica smiles when she sings. You can hear it. When you see her in concert you'll see it too. In a word: refreshing.
CBC Music's jazz festival playlist
Susie Arioli sets a new standard with All the Way
Kellylee Evans savours latest bite of success
CBC Jazz streams new tracks from Arioli, Welsman and more
on Jul 30, 2012