ELIZABETH SHEPHERD pushes the boundaries of what is considered conventional jazz, all the while creating a sound completely her own. She was raised by ministers of the Salvation Army Band, and an early exposure to the brass-band sounds mixed with her love for house, disco, classical, and hip-hop laid the foundations for this soulful musician. Trained extensively in conservatories from Alberta to France, she completed a degree in music from McGill University, Montreal. Shepherd emerged onto the Toronto jazz scene in 2005 and has already established herself as someone to be watched.
From the Jazz Cafe in London, to the Cotton Club in Tokyo, Shepherd has captivated audiences and critics on both sides of the pond. She was recently nominated for her first Canadian Juno in the Vocal Jazz Album of the Year category. Her debut album, Start to Move (Do Right! Music, 2006), continues to receive critical acclaim and made it into the Top 3 Jazz Albums of 2006, as voted by the listeners of the Gilles Peterson show on BBC Radio 1 in the U.K.
Although Start to Move can be found in the jazz section at your local music shop, Shepherd’s blend of jazz-funk, soul, blues, and samba reaches far beyond the jazz massive. Her follow-up full-length album Parkdale (Do Right! Music, 2008) is an older, wiser Shepherd teamed with her ever youthful, graceful soul. The words speak of longing and despair. Shepherd speaks to her audience about her condition – candidly singing her heart on her sleeve.
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. Leading the listener through her story, “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.”
Shepherd does not count herself as a “jazz performer”; she does not define herself by solely one musical genre. Her music comes straight from the soul – it’s not just what she does, it’s what she loves. She is constantly redefining the way people think about jazz.
Please visit www.elizabethshepherd.com and www.myspace.com/elizabethshepherd.