ORI DAGAN’s TRIBUTE TO ELVIS PRESLEY
On January 7, 2015, I was honoured to be asked by Ori Dagan, to sing an Elvis Presley song at his tribute to Elvis at the Lula. I was always a HUGE Elvis fan – Elvis was the first real love and inspiration in my life. I sang Peace in Valley, and LOVED revisiting that wonderful song.
VIRGIL SCOTT’S MUSICIANS’ NEW YEAR CELEBRATION
The venerable Hollywood on Queensway closed down last year, and so Virgil Scott had to find a new venue. The Cadillac Lounge in west Toronto was chosen for this year’s New Years reunion. Though the capacity is smaller, and the stage, not as large – it was still a wonderful evening, reuniting with friends from our past busy lives of gigs and sessions.
OTHER SPRING GIGS AND ACTIVITIES
Lisa Particelli’s Girls’ Night Out 10th Anniversary – January 14th, 2015 at Chalkers:
Lisa Particelli has been holding these live jam evenings for singers (where men are welcome to) for 10 years. During those years, a vibrant community has formed – musicians and singers, who want to test out a new song, or just get up and perform for an appreciative audience. Teachers bring their students there, so they can get the feel of working with a live band. And the live band is always made up of top grade musicians. The regulars are Peter Hill on piano, Ross MacIntyre on bass, and Louis Botos on drums. Other musicians join in the fun, and sit in with the singers, who sign up to sing, on a sheet provided by Lisa. It’s very well organized, and singers from the very heights of professionalism to the nail-biting nubies – are always treated with great respect. Many showed up to celebrate this special evening at Chalkers with Lisa and the band.
February 19th and December 17th Lula Lounge: Singing in the One-Stop Jazz Safaris with Jaymz Bee – a fundraiser for Jazz.fm. I sang with over 20 other extremely talented singers, and the band backed me beautifully sans rehearsal. As I sang A House Is Not A Home, I decided to go ahead with my dream to record a Bacharach CD. In the December version – I sang Walk On By.
MEMORIAL CELEBRATION FOR LARRY TRUDEL
June 2nd at the Jazz Bistro, a throng of people came together to celebrate a man who had headed one of Toronto’s largest jingle houses in the heyday of the recording studios. Larry Trudel was a mentor to so many of us, always kind, always with a twinkle in his eye and a smile – a total pleasure to work for. “Smile and think residuals” was one of his famous lines, as he sat behind the recording console, while we were singing the ditties written by his musicians – Tom Szczesniak, Doug Riley, Rick Wilkins.
The show that evening was full of talent – a highlight for me was Elaine Overholt sitting at the piano singing Those Were The Days, with her original hilarious lyrics referring to the good old days when we were all working. So many got up to sing a song in Larry’s honour, or to make a eulogy of memories. Tom Szczesniak led the band, most ably, and to once again hear Cal Dodd, Jackie Richardson, Colina Phillips, Sharon Lee Williams sing their songs – was a wonderful testament to a great man, well-loved by all.
PLEIN AIR ARTISTS’ GARDEN
On July 8th, I was invited to perform a solo show in the beautiful Wednesday evening concert series hosted by Susan Brown. I hired Russ Boswell to play bass, while I accompanied myself on guitar and uke. It was a lovely night, and the concert was well attended.
Under The the Bus: Grossmans with Sandi Marie and Guy Breau – I performed a 15 minute set with my guitar and the band.
Ross Ingles and Friends: Very happy to be asked to perform a song, and sing in the choir for this lovely annual event, May 24th.
Hampton Avenue 4 at the Beaches Jazz Festival: July 18th, performed a 30 minute set on the SING stage.
120 Diner, September 19th: Sang a couple of sets in memory of my mom and dad’s anniversary – it would have been 75 years, had they lived to tell the tale.
Honouring Our Own – a tribute to John Finley: I was invited to sing a song during this special tribute to John at 744. Privileged to be the only drop of estrogen in a crowd of eminent Toronto Musicians and singers.
Hampton Avenue 4 + 1 – sang at the 120 Diner, November 29th: We were so happy to have our old Hampton Avenue colleague, Larry (LJ) Folk, join us to sing a couple of songs during our gig. It’s always so special to be able to add that 5th part in jazz harmony – we all love the “crunches” of those rich chords, and we pulled out a couple of our old arrangements – What ARe You Doing The Rest of Your Life, Jingle Bell Rock and a couple of others.
THE TORONTO MENDELLSOHN CHOIR FAREWELL
As the 2014-15 season with the choir began, I realized that this was my 40th year singing with the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. The choir has been in my blood, and my heart and soul since I joined in 1973, and I have had some truly great moments – singing everything from the glorious classics, t0 Stravinski and Michael Tippet in the modern realm of music.
Learning new parts has always been a challenge, but at the beginning, I worked very diligently to learn my parts well, and through my hard work and dedication, I worked my way up to becoming an excellent sight reader. I have sung alto, first soprano and second soprano during those 40 years.
But all great things must come to an end, and I decided that I would make the decision to leave when I felt it was right to do so, rather than being asked to leave because of my age. All the signs were there that this was the time to do it. The nice round 40 number of years in the choir; the fact that my favourite works, including Bach’s B minor Mass, Mozart’s Requiem, Mahler’s 2nd, The Verdi Requiem, The Messiah were all being performing in this season.
In April, I handed in my notice of resignation from the choir, and because being in the choir had contributed to my developing the skills that led to my very successful career in the studios – I decided to present an endowment to the choir.
With this endowment, Noel Edison, Cynthia Hawkins and I created The Debbie Fleming Prize for Choral Composition – an annual award, which will be presented to the entrant chosen by a panel of judges, who has written the best composition. During the annual Conductor’s Symposium, the winning entry will be sung by the choir.
I felt this was a perfect incentive for unpublished talented Canadian writers of choral music (no age limit) to put their creative juices to work, and perhaps write the next great choral work for the world to savour, and was thrilled to make this gift to the choir, which has given me so much through the years.
I was thrilled to be invited to sing the Ralph Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony with the Toronto Symphony and the choir in October, as an alumna.
I was also privileged to be invited to sing the Messiah in December with the choir, under the baton of Sir Andrew Davis, who was recording a new re-arrangement of his for the Chandos label. This arrangement of Handel’s Messiah included some interesting new touches – like using a marimba and augmented percussion in the orchestration.
The recording will be released in 2016.
REUNITING WITH TWO OLD FRIENDS
In April, I learned that Petula Clark, who I toured with as a backup singer in the 80’s, was going to appear at Koerner Hall as a judge for the annual Glenn Gould award presentations. I went to this special presentation, which included many eminent Canadians as judges. The prize this year was awarded to Phillip Glass.
Petula sang a set of songs for the audience, and she still sounds like a young girl – strong, pitch-perfect and confident – now in her 80’s. It was lovely to reunite with her after the show. I feel so blessed that I experienced those wonderful years of singing behind this special, ueber talented woman.
Another lifelong friend and mentor came back into my life in October, by total surprise. I was invited by Cathy Young to do a little singing in honour of Ritchie York’s new book about the Canadian music business. I walked in, and was greeted by none other than Ronnie Hawkins – the man who I met when I was 16 – who always supported and encouraged my talent. He introduced me to the man who would become my husband, and has been a constant thread in my life’s fabric since those heady days of rock and roll in the 60’s.
But nowadays, contact is rare, and it was wonderful to reunite with him – now a feisty octogenarian – still singin’ and grinnin’, and still recording and hangin’ out with the good old boys.
STARTING TO RECORD THE BACHARACH PROJECT
After a couple of pre-production meetings with Mark Kieswetter, the songs were chosen, and the arrangements were discussed.
For the first sessions, beginning at Number Nine Audio Group, in late September, we used Mark, Ross MacIntyre on bass (upright and electric), Peter Mueller on guitar, and Charley Coolie on drums. The songs we recorded at these sessions were more R&B flavoured, with a hint of jazz, and a little Latin. We recorded Alfie, A House is Not a Home, Walk on By, Windows of the World/What The World Needs Now, You’ll Never Get to Heaven (a nice Latin cha cha) and Mark Kieswetter’s killer arrangement of Anyone Who Had a Heart.
Throughout the fall, we sweetened with backup vocals and horns (Chase Sanborn on trumpet, John MacMurchy on saxophones and Russ Little on Trombone), then mixed the tunes before Christmas. Bernie Cisternas was a dream of a recording engineer, and we became a wonderful team in the process.
The more jazz-oriented songs would be recorded in 2016
THE AULT SISTERS
Always a constant in my life – these talented girls have matured into wonderful performers and musicians, and their new CD “Timeless” (comprised of all my arrangements) is receiving wonderful support world wide.