Amanda Mabro
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Amanda Mabro

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"Thousands of converts drawn to Mabro's fusion of drama and attitude"

When Amanda Mabro approached the autograph table in the Best Buy tent after an outdoor set at this summer's Montreal International Jazz Festival, she concluded that the festival organizers had changed their mind. Eyeballing the lineup, the singer-songwriter and manager Jennifer Kruidbos simply assumed the table had been assigned to a bigger-name performer.

By The Gazette (Montreal)October 14, 2008Be the first to post a comment



When Amanda Mabro approached the autograph table in the Best Buy tent after an outdoor set at this summer's Montreal International Jazz Festival, she concluded that the festival organizers had changed their mind. Eyeballing the lineup, the singer-songwriter and manager Jennifer Kruidbos simply assumed the table had been assigned to a bigger-name performer.

"As we're getting closer, I ask: 'Are they holding my CDs?' " Mabro, 28, said. "And Jen says: 'Yep.' We just got behind a table and talked with everyone. It's such an amazing feeling to play to an international crowd and see that you were able to touch so many different people from so many different cultures."

If a high-profile gig in front of several thousand converts would seem to be the highlight of this year and next for your regular local artist, Mabro doesn't have much time to savour the moment.

An EP, Wine Flows, is being launched in a few weeks, along with a new Meinert Hansen-directed video. But there'll also be few moments to celebrate that: Mabro's first European gigs have been booked around a Dec. 10 show at the Brussels Opera House.

Decompression after that? Nope. She has six months to finish writing 90 minutes of new music for What's Your Pleasure?, a multimedia event featuring circus performers, burlesque dancers and singers. And then there are the demands of Muay Thai boxing, yoga, photography and domestic life (she and her bassist, Patrick Rizzetto, are married.)

Like her interests, Mabro's music is tough to pigeonhole, but it certainly has the drama of cabaret with some rock 'n' roll attitude. The mixture might have been concocted when she was a child, born of Egyptian parents, growing up in Pierrefonds.

"I used to bully the local kids that lived on my street into being my back-up singers and dancers so I could put on shows on the driveway of my house," she said, bursting out in a characteristic guffaw. The driveway repertoire consisted of songs by Madonna, Michael Jackson and the Beatles, she said.

In spite of suffering the indignities of playing a drunken dwarf in a high-school production of Snow White and a mere crayon - yellow, to boot - in her figure-skating group, Mabro said she never saw herself as being anything but a singer and performer.

"I'd always sung, so it was never a question in my mind. I never even thought of it, really, as a profession. It was just something I did," she said.

After attending high school in Laval, Mabro turned down a scholarship to New York's American Musical and Dramatic Academy.

"Aside from the financial aspect, I just wasn't ready. Growing up Canadian contributes to that. I visited the school and these kids seemed incredibly thick-skinned and very confrontational," she said.

With a grant from The Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent on Records, Mabro settled at Dawson College, where she met longtime friend and collaborator Rick Collucio, a.k.a. Cozmos Quazar.

Her first valued lesson about emotional triggers came when she sang John Lennon's Imagine at a Bell Centre benefit for the Red Cross in 2001, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Three years later, the point was reinforced when she performed for only 30 people in a bar she won't name.

"I seem to get more nervous in more intimate situations, where I'm performing to 20 or 30 people, than in a surreal, almost distant, cut-off situation like the Bell Centre," she said.

The "creepy bar" gig had Mabro and band competing with ambient noise that included drug deals. "People were clapping more for the bar manager, who would interrupt our set to perform in an Elvis mask," she said.

"We just kept pushing through, even though people weren't listening. Eventually, there was this weird, sudden moment where people turned and started to pay attention.

"I learned to adapt," she said of other less-than-ideal conditions she encountered on early tours.

"Not only does it make you grateful for the better shows, but it gives you a thicker skin. If I fell ass-backwards into huge shows right away and didn't have to earn everything, I wouldn't have the same appreciation or sense of groundedness I feel now," she said.

At the time of those early shows, Mabro was singing mostly jazz standards like All of Me and My Favourite Things, with the odd Van Morrison, Neil Young or Nine Inch Nails cover mixed in.

By 2006, when her first album, Superwoman in the Making, was released, she had reinvented her sound, moving toward the larger, more expressive style she has become known for.

"By nature, I'm a little bit of a drama queen, a very emotional person. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and I want that to come through when I'm performing. I think that people can identify with it," she said.

Not so surprisingly, there's a burlesque quality to some of the video material on Mabro's website - and there's a reason for that.

"I love a lot of music from the '30s and '40s," she said. "I also love the way women were sexualized. They were not just more fleshy, but they looked human, and that's what made it sexy, or erotic or beautiful. A lot of women now are looking a little too much like plastic."

Mabro is also the founder and producer of the annual WAWA (We Are Women Artists) event. "It was important for me to help foster bonds between female artists," she said. "In an industry that is so incredibly fickle, so many people are jockeying for position for table scraps. And women, being not only competitive with each other, but incredibly unsupportive a lot of the time, are only helping perpetuate negativity and, essentially, are creating an obstacle course for themselves."

Even with so many projects on the radar, Mabro doesn't let the future rule her.

"At some point in the last year, I just decided that every time I have an opportunity that's wonderful, I'm going to treat it like it's my last," she said. "In the music industry, one day you can be up and the next you can be down, so it's fruitless to measure your success by how many people you played to or how many CDs you'll sell or how much money you're making."

Amanda Mabro performs Nov. 6 at 8 p.m. at Cabaret du Musée Juste Pour Rire. Tickets cost $12. Phone 514-790-1245 or go to www.admission.com

For information on Wine Flows, go to www.amandamabro.com - The Montreal Gazette, 2008


"Catch Elsiane and Amanda Mabro Friday Night"

Lady Gaga, Imogen Heap, the Good Lovelies, Alex Cuba --- all in town Friday night. But for my money, the most interesting show will feature gifted singer-songwriter Amanda Mabro, who can write a powerhouse hook, and duo Elsiane, who are perfect for haunted David Lynch, Angelo Badalamenti and Portishead fans. This combination, which will feature separate sets and some collaborations, should be fascinating. The music starts Friday night, Nov. 27, at 8 at Cabaret Juste Pour Rire, 2111 St. Laurent Blvd.

Here's one of Mabro's recent videos, a version of the Kinks' immortal Alcohol, showing that apart from her own impressive growing catalogue, she has excellent taste in covers: - Montreal Gazette


"Valentine variety: The WAWA Show and more for dancers and romancers this weekend"

by LINA HARPER

Heart-shaped glitter dove kids and cherub-faced dance enthusiasts can take pleasure in the fact that this Valentine’s Day’s choice parties might just make them feel like swathed bairns of love this season. From local indie talent at neo-vaudeville event We Are Women Artists to lock-and-key exchanges at an early Mec Plus Ultra party, the Mirror rounds up some of this year’s romance dances.

This Saturday and Sunday, the We Are Women Artists (WAWA) festival will be celebrating its fifth year of showcasing emerging local talent, and as founder and singer-songwriter Amanda Mabro says, “It’s not just about celebrating women artists”—though she is quick to note the trajectory of her career has stretched out in large part because of the exposure the fest has given her.

“Essentially, the intention of the event is to bring together established artists and artists that are just beginning, in a supportive environment, an inclusive, welcoming context.”

This welcoming context is also full of hot ladies. To that end, the first night, on Saturday, Feb. 13, is more of a comedy thing at Centre St. Ambroise and is hosted by nerd-darling comedienne DeAnne Smith, with performances by Eman, Jess Solomon, Queen: the Improv Troupe, Not the Band and the Dirty Little Spoons. Doors are at 8 p.m., admission is $10.

On Sunday, Valentine’s Day proper is the classic WAWA Show at la Sala Rossa—“a neo-vaudevillian sort of thing where we celebrate variety and spontaneity,” says Mabro. Hosted by Miss Sugarpuss, the show—which Mabro says will be “full of surprises”—features Mabro, singer Elsiane, NYC’s electronic pop artist NLX, contortionist Andreanne Leclerc, breakdancer JoDee Allen, DeAnne Smith and more. Doors at 8 p.m., admission $15. - The Montreal Mirror


"Ladies in the limelight"

What happens when you bring together some of Montreal's most talented, intrepid women? "Magic," says Amanda Mabro, pop songstress and founder of the WAWA Show, an annual celebration of women's talents and creativity (the name is an acronym for We Are Women Artists and a tribute to Gilda Radner's SNL character Baba Wawa). This year's event is the fifth instalment and promises to be bigger and bolder than ever.

"The show has a vaudeville spirit," says Mabro. "I've thought about the lineup and how to order the performers so that the audience is taken on a journey. Just like the old vaudeville shows, the effect is fun and inclusive, with a family vibe." Even if the program includes a burlesque dancer or two and a stripping contortionist!

The Feb. 13 show at Centre St-Ambroise (5080-A St-Ambroise), 8 p.m., is an evening of comedy with Deanne Smith, Eman, Jess Solomon, Queen: The Improv Troupe and Dirty Little Spoons, while the Feb. 14 show's eclectic roster features breakdancer JoDee Allen, musician Elsiane, contortionist Andreanne "Mimi" Leclerc, Miss Sugarpuss and many more, at La Sala Rossa (4848 St-Laurent Blvd.), Feb. 14, 8 p.m.

Entertainment isn't the only purpose of the show: "I've invited these women with the intention to build community, create a support system and develop careers," says Mabro, whose musical career has paralleled the show's evolution. "Previous WAWA
Shows have had a positive impact on women artists' careers, and many of the performers are repeat offenders. This year's lineup features a mix of established and emerging artists, covering a wide range of styles; it really unites people from different fields with their own networks and followings and creates dialogue between artists."

See www.thewawashow.com. - The Hour Ladies in the limelight


"Red Rows a "groundbreaking" record"

CBC RADIO 1 Home Run show calls Amanda Mabro's new CD Red Rows a "groundbreaking" record that features music by an artist whose sound is "unlike anything heard before". - CBC Radio 1


"Nightlife Magazine, Wine Flows CD review"

"...la jeune Montrealaise prouve qu'elle continue de peaufiner un son bien a elle..." - Nightlife Magazine


"CBC Review of Red Rows"


Fantastic E.P. from Montreal singer with a penchant for Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. But to call Mabro a jazz singer is a misnomer. Cuts like the Bandish Better Day and Parlour are a testament to her versatility. A crystal like voice and soulful delivery make Mabro a force to be reckoned with. Mabro is certainly no Norah Jones bandwagoner. Her cabaret stuff like Nuit Blanche on Red Rows coupled with the unigue arrangements of her partner in song Cozmos Quazar allow Mabro’s unique voice to be heard all in a class by herself. 8.5/10 CBC RADIO 1 Music Columnist Duke Eatmon

- CBC Radio 1


"Meet You At The Show, Concert Review"

Next up on stage was the Montreal based cabaret extraordinaire, Amanda Mabro and her band. Her charisma and charm were felt immediately as she walked on stage with a big, beautiful smile. To describe Amanda’s voice and performance in one word would be… wow. She completely blew the audience away! She opened up her setlist with a black and white lit stage and sang completely accapella. It’s rare that someone can sing so well without any instrumentation to support their vocals, and it was quite a lovely treat for the ears.

With the presence of her band, the set continued with her cabaret pop songs, based on amusing real life events, such as running over a deer and broken plates. The atmosphere was full of fun, lighthearted people, dancing together to Amanda’s feverish and cheerful songs. The stage was even graced by not one, not two, but three amazing duets performed by Elsianne and Amanda throughout the show. The duet that really stood out was the song “Smoke”, one of Amanda’s cabaret tunes, with an electronica twist from featured guest singer Elsianne.

Her songs were not only entertaining to listen to, but also great to dance to… and the audience couldn’t agree more. One member of the audience was even fortunate enough to go up on stage and hold up lyrics posters for a group sing along with Amanda and her team. By the end of the show, everyone was off their seats shaking their booties, wanting more and more. The audience involvement and dynamics with the band was just incredible. I guess there’s a bit of cabaret in everyone, and Amanda was able to bring that side of us out to play. - Sarah Touyz - Meet You at the Show


Discography

2009 - Wine Flows EP - Bitchin' Empire
2008 - Red Rows EP - Bitchin' Empire
2006 - Superwoman in the Making - XXI-21 / SRI

Photos

Bio

Amanda has an impressive musical resume that boasts shows in North America and Europe, performances alongside international stars and high praise from music critics. Her latest project, the Wine Flows and Red Rows sister EPs, present her gorgeous larger-than-life vocal prowess and ability to deliver inspiring and original songs.

The Red Rows/Wine Flows project, two distinct EPs released in 2008 and 2009, showcase the evolution of Amanda's sound from a cabaret-influenced chanteuse to an unstoppable theatrical pop force. Together, the EPs highlight Amanda's diverse range of styles and influences. Red Rows gives a feisty wink to her jazz/cabaret beginnings while Wine Flows boldly marches forward and heralds the future of pop music as being fresh, creative and evocative. Amanda's voice plays among the guitar, drums, piano and violin, weaving the elements together, tying them into modern tales of beauty and hope. CBC has touted Red Rows as being a "groundbreaking piece of pop music" and music columnist Duke Eatom has declared Amanda "a force to be reckoned with."

Amanda has been astounding music critics since day one. Her debut album, 2006's Superwoman In The Making, put her on the map with high-energy performances across Canada. Critics quickly took notice and heaped glowing praise on the newcomer with impressive reviews from various media outlets such as Chart, CBC and the Montreal Gazette. Amanda's body of work has built a dedicated following but fans agree; you cannot fully understand the essence of her art until you see her live, lit up by spotlights, jumping around the stage, belting extraordinary melodies while captivating audiences with her electric energy. Amanda has toured Canada several times, showcased at festivals such as NXNE and the Toronto Jazz Festival and shared stages with Celine Dion, Arcade Fire, Jorane, Vanessa Carlton, Raul Midon and Franz Ferdinand. Two rousing performances in front of 20,000 spectators at the 2008 Montreal International Jazz Festival prompted the sale of 300 albums in 30 minutes. Her first-ever French language release, Nuit Blanche, was turned into a stunning Tim Burton-esque music video created by Montreal/Hollywood concept artist Meinert Hansen and is in rotation on Much Music Canada. Sold-out shows, a loyal international fan base and invitations to perform overseas prove that Amanda has the makings of a world-class artist in the evolving music industry.

Amanda's current projects include pre-production work on an upcoming full-length album, preparations for "What's Your Pleasure?", a highly anticipated multimedia event, and production for the 2010 edition of We Are Women Artists (WAWA), a multi-disciplinary festival promoting women in the arts which Amanda founded in 2003.