Cara Matthew

Cara Matthew

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN
SoloBluesJazz

Labelled as "Canada's next international jazz star," Cara Matthew is compared to the likes of Diana Krall and Holly Cole. An emotionally soulful & captivating voice. Cara performs contemporary pop songs, fusing them with jazz and blues.

Band Press

Showcase - in Canadian Musician (November/December 2008 issue) – Doug Gallant

Cara Matthew has the potential to become Canada's next international jazz star.

The Toronto-based singer has a great voice, an innate sense of what works for her and what doesn't, and a talent for taking songs which aren't generally regarded as jazz songs in the traditional sense and putting a whole new spin on them.

She displays all these talents and more on her recently-released debut album "Make You Feel My Love."

A very polished effort, the album was recorded in Toronto with Juno Award-winning producer Greg Kavanagh and a go-big-or-stay-home roster of session players that included bass player George Koller, keyboard player Robi Botos, drummer Davide DiRenzo, and trumpet player Guido Basso.

Matthew's first record is full of surprises, not the least of which is her choice of material, which includes songs from artists like Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Billy Preston, Elton John, and Aerosmith, all of which were favourites of hers growing up - and all of which have been given a new jazz/blues arrangement.

She takes some of these pop gems in directions I expect their creators never anticipated - like Preston's "Nothin' From Nothin," but the treatments are goody and the material fares well.

Matthew, who was born on the west coast but now calls Toronto home, is a gifted musical interpreter and I suspect she couldbe a good songwriter. She says she mulled that possibility over when planning this record, but opted instead to stick with material she knows and loves.

After listening to the album, I can't say I blame her for going down the road she chose - she does some very interesting things with some of these tracks.

Matthew is already enjoying some success internationally with the record, netting radio play in Australia, the Netherlands, and the Virgin Islands.

This is an artist to watch.


CARA MATTHEW - VUE WEEKLY, Edmonton, Alberta – Maria Kotovych, Week of April 2/09

Categorizing music into a clearly defined genre isn’t always easy. Yet, some decisions are more obvious than others—people wouldn’t think of Aerosmith as jazz, for example. But this doesn’t mean that creating a jazz version of Aerosmith’s music is impossible.

Jazz and blues singer Cara Matthew did just that on her recently released album, Make You Feel My Love. Not only does this record include bluesy takes of Aerosmith’s “Pink” and “What It Takes,” it also takes songs by artists such as Elton John, Bob Dylan and Joni Mitchell and gives them a similar twist.

Matthew explains that taking this route allowed her to do something unique.

“I decided that instead of doing an album with standards that have been done before—people are still coming out with albums full of standards, of jazz standards—I thought I would do something different, and make standards out of classics—Elton John, Billy Joel,” she says.

The songs on this album are ones that Matthew has always loved. Aerosmith, for instance, is one of her favourite bands. In addition to loving the group’s lyrics, she also appreciates the music’s very melodic nature. Having listened to these musicians for a long time, Matthew didn’t have trouble jazzifying the group’s tunes.

“I loved these songs so much growing up that I could feel them already, and they’ve always been brewing in me. So I didn’t really find it that hard,” she reflects, adding that all the musicians on the record had an opportunity to work out their own parts.

Anyone who has ever heard a remake knows that the ability to create a good one doesn’t grace everyone who attempts it; for Matthew, the secret behind a good rendition is doing something completely different from the original.
“If you do something like Aretha Franklin does something, well, Aretha Franklin already did that. Why would you want to sing it that way again? You want to make it your own; you want to do your own thing.” V


Thu, Apr 2 and Fri, Apr 3 (8 pm)
Cara Matthew
Jeffrey’s Café and Wine Bar, $15

Jazz vocalist's pop range includes...Aerosmith? – Edmonton Journal - October 10th, 2009

Cara Matthew isn't the first jazz singer to take on contemporary pop tunes, but on the recent debut disc Make You Feel My Love (Awesome/ EMI) this Vancouver-born/Toronto resident goes further than most.

Imagine covers of Aerosmith(Pink, What It Takes), Elton John and Bernie Taupin's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Billy Joel's She's Always A Woman, Billy Preston's Nothing From Nothing, and the title Bob Dylan tune alongside more typical songwriters such as Burt Bacharach, Joni Mitchell and Randy Newman.

The novel part is how Matthew and her trio (including ex-Edmonton bassist George Koller) bring jazz phrasing and inventive arrangements to such unexpected material along with the standards fare she also sings.

We caught up with Matthew at the start of her first 17-date national tour, which includes a return visit tonight to Jeffrey's Cafe&Wine Bar on(she sold out two nights there last spring).

Q: What drew you to singing jazz in the first place?

A: I grew up in a musical family. Then in high school I had some amazing choral directors and teachers who inspired me, and that's also when I got introduced to jazz. I had classical vocal training for years before I got some jazz training in high school. There's just something about how I feel when I sing jazz. That's where the moment is for me. Jazz lets me feel who I am.

Q: So you began pursuing a musical career following high school?

A: I sang in all sorts of shows over the summers, but I didn't get into music as a career until after I did an undergrad degree at UBC, majoring in English and sociology. The musical focus really got going once I moved to Toronto three years ago and met the phenomenal players that I work with. My piano player Robi Botos told me, "Just listen to the greats, that's your best teacher." Dinah Washington was a huge influence, and Diana Krall as well.

Q: How prepared were you going into this recording?

A: It took me a few months to find a great producer, but I finally met Greg Kavanagh (a Juno Awardwinning producer who has worked with David Foster, Aretha Franklin, Jennifer Warnes and Chrissie Hynde, among others).

Before this album I was singing all standards and a few Aretha Franklin tunes. But I wanted to take songs that I love, songs that I listened to growing up, and turn them into jazz and blues and interpret them the way I wanted to sing them.

I can't sing Aerosmith songs like Steven Tyler, but I can sing them like me, in my bluesy interpretation. Greg was on board with that, and the players we used were so amazing. We gave them a lot of freedom to get involved in creating the arrangements as well.

Q:It's pretty unusual for Aerosmith tunes to show up on a jazz record.

A:I guess I was hearing something that I could make my own, especially on Pink. It's a very sensual, fun song you can play with a lot. George created a bass solo to open it and it turned out to centre things beautifully.

Q: Some of the tunes, like Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, are so well-known. Was it intimidating to try and find something fresh in them?

A: I loved singing these songs, so even if someone says, "That kind of sounds like the original," it doesn't impact me because I'm singing it the way I feel it. A lot of responses came from people who say, "I didn't even know it was that song," and that's what I love. It's about really feeling the lyrics, making sure that the words can be understood and telling a story with them.

Q:As a jazz singer doing pop songs, what audience are you shooting for?

A: It could be very wide, Some people who don't like jazz at all will still like this. I'm hoping it caters to a lot of different ages and niches.

Debut for Matthew - Local singer back to release debut album – The Daily Courier

"She may be a petite blonde package in blue jeans and beige jacket sitting in the boardroom at this newspaper's office, but on her album Cara Matthew packs a powerful presence.

'Soulful, bluesy,' is how she describes her voice when asked. 'It's unique, different.'

Matthew, 27, is in town tonight to release her debut album, Make You Feel My Love, at the Minstrel Cafe in Kelowna.

'When people look at me (perform), they'll see warmness, a depth, a passion.'

'But mostly I just have fun.'

Matthew was raised in Kelowna, attending Mount Boucherie Secondary School where she credits the choir teacher for instilling her love of jazz and blues into her.

'It started in high school in Grade 10 when I made the auditioned choir there,' said Matthew. 'The choir teather...she introduced us to a wide variety of blues and jazz and other music.'

After getting her arts degree at UBC, she packed up her life and her cat and drove to across the country to live in Toronto.

She said she knew she had to do it.

'It's something that has always been burning inside me. It's something I had to do.'

Matthew said most of the people she knew were supportive. 'Actually, people in the music business thought I was crazy,' she said, describing a meeting with a musician in Toronto the first night she moved there.

'He said "Are you crazy? What are you doing?'" she laughed. 'Friends and family, true friends and family are supportive. They understand.'

There she met Juno-award-winning producer Greg Kavanagh who produced her debut album.

“It‘s all me,” she said about how much of the disc is her ideas. “But finding the right producer can definitely make or break a record.

“Greg was very supportive, he would say to me ’Check out this song … and he was absolutely right. But I made the final decisions.”

The album, with 11 tracks, are all covers of tunes Matthew loved growing up.

“The first process was, do I want to write my own material, or do I want to sing what I love? At first I wanted to do my own, and I was doing some writing, but eventually I decided to sing what I love.”

The result is tunes from greats such as Billy Joel, Elton John, Aerosmith and others done in a bluesy fashion all her own.

Matthew said she hasn‘t received any criticism for doing an album of covers. “People ask me if I write, but no one has said anything about doing it this way. I haven‘t received any criticism so far.”

After tonight‘s CD release party, Matthew will tour across Canada in support of Make You Feel My Love. “I‘ll be doing that all on my own.”

Tonight‘s show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door and reservations are recommended.



O's Notes – O's Place Jazz Newsletter, D. Oscar Groomes

Cara has a mellow voice that she attaches to a wide variety of selections. The tone is generally soft country blues. She opens with a fine arrangement of "Walk On By" a song that she embraces and works well. Then she switches to blues with "I'll Be Home" and "Pink". "Make You Feel My Love" is a fine ballad as is "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word". We liked the vibe of "What It Takes". The common thread among the eleven songs is heartfelt emotion. Matthew is convincing.

O's Notes – O's Place Jazz Newsletter, D. Oscar Groomes

Cara has a mellow voice that she attaches to a wide variety of selections. The tone is generally soft country blues. She opens with a fine arrangement of "Walk On By" a song that she embraces and works well. Then she switches to blues with "I'll Be Home" and "Pink". "Make You Feel My Love" is a fine ballad as is "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word". We liked the vibe of "What It Takes". The common thread among the eleven songs is heartfelt emotion. Matthew is convincing.

"Make You Feel My Love" Airs on Australian Radio – PBS 106.7FM, Melbourne

Did l like [Cara Matthew's Debut Album] or not? After
listening for the third time l am still discovering beautiful nuances that l
had entirely missed earlier. This is an exceptional Jazz album full of
luscious arrangements of some standards with new life breathed into them,
the subtle colour changes, then for good measure the wonderful understated
instrumental backing . The groove is constant and mesmerizing with an
sumptuous feel throughout. Now did l like it, well that doesn't matter
really as it will be the listeners who decide exactly that, but and that is
a large but, if they are anything like me then they too will fall absolutely
in love with this cd. We are the cities leading Jazz station and already
the feedback has been wonderful just from a brief time on air, here is an
exceptional cd. [Cara's] talent and sheer love of the music looms a bright light
over every note played. Here in my office when listening to [her] cd we all
agreed that it is refreshing and innovative with wonderful instrumentation
and compositions. Here at PBS we cover a very large range of music,
everything from Bluegrass to Reggae, and our Jazz shows are some of our
biggest shows here with a very loyal audience. Our daily listenership
exceeds 600000 and our web site generates in excess of 6 million hits per
month, you can check us out at www.pbsfm.org.au, our site live streams and
provides an archive of the past twelve months. Allocating [Cara's] cd was
extremely easy as l have placed [her] with the number 1 Jazz show on our grid
"Sunday Sessions" with Desi Dixon Sunday 1 to 3pm.

"Make You Feel My Love" Airs on Australian Radio – PBS 106.7FM, Melbourne

Did l like [Cara Matthew's Debut Album] or not? After
listening for the third time l am still discovering beautiful nuances that l
had entirely missed earlier. This is an exceptional Jazz album full of
luscious arrangements of some standards with new life breathed into them,
the subtle colour changes, then for good measure the wonderful understated
instrumental backing . The groove is constant and mesmerizing with an
sumptuous feel throughout. Now did l like it, well that doesn't matter
really as it will be the listeners who decide exactly that, but and that is
a large but, if they are anything like me then they too will fall absolutely
in love with this cd. We are the cities leading Jazz station and already
the feedback has been wonderful just from a brief time on air, here is an
exceptional cd. [Cara's] talent and sheer love of the music looms a bright light
over every note played. Here in my office when listening to [her] cd we all
agreed that it is refreshing and innovative with wonderful instrumentation
and compositions. Here at PBS we cover a very large range of music,
everything from Bluegrass to Reggae, and our Jazz shows are some of our
biggest shows here with a very loyal audience. Our daily listenership
exceeds 600000 and our web site generates in excess of 6 million hits per
month, you can check us out at www.pbsfm.org.au, our site live streams and
provides an archive of the past twelve months. Allocating [Cara's] cd was
extremely easy as l have placed [her] with the number 1 Jazz show on our grid
"Sunday Sessions" with Desi Dixon Sunday 1 to 3pm.