Dawn Tyler Watson
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Dawn Tyler Watson

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The best kept secret in music



”Watson, in a nutshell, smokes. She has a kit bag full of smooth moves, and a personality that lifts off the page.”
Eric Thom, Blues Review Magazine

"This utterly assured performer has you believing she's a front-ranking country singer, a soul diva, a jazz warbler, a new adult contemporary specialist, a swing siren-- as well as a basic blues belter."
Geoff Chapman, The Toronto Star

"What stands out in her show is stage presence-- a subtle and sophisticated confidence that exudes class."
Baron Bedesky, Canadianblues.ca

"Dawn's voice is a supple, sultry, sexy marvel, a scintillating instrument of seductive allure. She infuses every line with an equal measure of smarts and sass."
John Taylor, Blues on Stage

"Her fabulous voice and her incandescent stage presence make her the Queen of the Blues in Montreal."
Journal de Montreal

- Varrious

"Diva Du Jour"

Montreal jazz performer Dawn Tyler Watson has fared well in France. At that country’s Cognac blues festival in 2002, she won the BottleNet International Screamin’ Jay Hawkins Award for best concert or tour by an international artist.
Dawn Tyler Watson, BFA (jazz studs.) 94, is a diva in a Ten Dollar Dress, a Grande Dame de Blues, a leading lady by the name of Curly Brown. She’s absolutely fabulous.

Ten Dollar Dress is the name of Watson’s debut album, released to critical acclaim in July 2001 literally moments before she took to the outdoor stage before thousands at the Montreal International Jazz Festival. The jazz singer-songwriter has been a regular headliner at the festival since 1998, but that night marked a milestone. “I was so emotional, and thrilled,” she says. “I went out and rocked the stage.”

In many ways, the rising vocal artist credits her formal training and experiences while at Concordia for her success. Watson, a native of England who came to Canada at a young age, recalls how she used to butt heads with music professor Jeri Brown: “I thought she had it in for me, but it turns out she just believed in me and wanted to challenge me.”

Watson’s fans can catch her weekly at the House of Jazz, formerly Biddle’s (where she was discovered by a movie director; earlier this year Watson starred opposite Roy Dupuis in the Quebec film Jack Paradise). Watson performs a freeflowing repertoire of jazz, blues, funk, gospel, folk, swing and rock. In 2003, she won the inaugural Lys Blues award for Best Female Artist from Quebec webzine Le Net Blues. She has jammed with blues artists Jeff Healey, Nanette Workman and Colin James, to name a few. And while singing for a club date band, she ended up giving a concert for Céline Dion and her family. “She got up and sang with my band. It was a real trip,” says Watson. “It only hit me later — ‘My God, I just sang for Céline Dion all night.’ ”

by Debbie Baum - Concordia Magagzine

"The Dawn of the Blues"

Dawn Tyler Watson makes her way from Montreal to play the Southside Shuffle (Saturday, September 11, 9pm, Main Stage) and returns to Toronto for the TBS Women's Blues Revue at historic Massey Hall on Saturday, November 27. She will be sharing the stage at that time with Rita Chiarelli, Sue Foley, Ndidi Onukwulu, Jackie Richardson and Serena Ryder backed by the popular Women's Blues Revue Band - Lily Sazz (band leader, keyboards), Suzie Vinnick (bass), Margaret Stowe (guitar), Michelle Josef (drums), Sarah McElcheran (trumpet), Carrie Chesnutt (sax), Colleen Allen (sax).
Singer and songwriter Dawn Tyler Watson got her first big break after Preservation Records approached her in 1997 and asked her to contribute to a blues compilation it was putting together.

Almost overnight, Watson, who up until then hadn't had much confidence in her songwriting ability, wrote two songs.

When the Preservation CD was released, the two tracks, along with a Leadbelly tune she had recorded, received rave reviews. Within six months, Watson and her band, the Dawn Tyler Blues Project, moved up to the next level, from playing clubs, corporate parties and weddings to performing for larger audiences at concert halls and opening for other acts.

"It was an affirmation as a songwriter," says Watson over the telephone from her home in Montreal.

In 2001, her critically acclaimed debut CD, Ten Dollar Dress, was released on the Preservation label. Most of the songs on the recording, blues, R&B, funk and jazz tunes, were written by Watson. "You Can't Be True," from the Preservation compilation, was included. It's a song that has a story behind it.

For 12 years, Watson has been visiting seniors' residences and community centres, doing music therapy with seniors.

She says she has sung to someone who was dying and to people suffering with Alzheimer's disease and dementia. "It's a challenge to get someone who's not responding, to get them to smile or react. It's amazing to see how music affects them." Those who can, sing along, she adds.

At one seniors' residence, Watson used to harmonize with a woman on "You Can't Be True, Dear," a song from the late 1940s. The woman was blind, suffering from Alzheimer's and dementia, and wheelchair bound. "She would sing at the top of her lungs," Watson says. "She was pretty confused, but she had a great voice."

Out of the experience of singing with her, Watson says she wrote the scintillating and sultry blues song "You Can't Be True."

Although "You Can't Be True" falls into the category of relationship songs, Watson often ventures out of that tried-and-true territory, tackling subjects such as depression, suicide, spousal abuse, drug abuse and safe sex. "Shoot the Devil," on both the Preservation compilation and Ten Dollar Dress, about addiction and teenage suicide, came out of her experience working with teenagers in Montreal, she says.

Watson is a strong storyteller whose songs are richly populated with different characters. "I like to write about things that affect us. I like stories; I'm moved by people's legacies and what they've been through."

Not surprisingly, Watson feels that lyrics are important _- her excellent band does the arrangements of her songs, for which she also writes the melodies — and so she tries to keep her diction sharp when she performs. "I don't care how beautiful your voice is," she says, "I want to hear the message of the song. The words and melody can only move you so far."

Watson's powerful voice, as well as her performance style, stage presence and her versatility as a singer, has brought her critical praise.

In the Toronto Star, Geoff Chapman wrote that "this utterly assured performer has you believing she's a front-ranking country singer, a soul diva, a jazz warbler, a new adult contemporary specialist, a swing siren — as well as a basic blues belter." The Journal de Montreal has dubbed her the "Queen of the Blues in Montreal."

While Watson was enrolled in the jazz program at Montreal's Concordia University — she graduated in 1994 — she acted, and had several small parts in movies. She decided to concentrate on singing, and dropped acting, she says, because she can express herself in singing more than she can in acting.

So Watson was surprised when she got a telephone call about playing the lead role of the singer Curly Brown in the movie Jack Paradise, which chronicles the Montreal jazz scene from the 1930s to `70s. "They said they wanted a singer before they wanted an actress," she says. Watson took the part, playing a character similar to Billie Holiday who is in love with her white piano player.

Released in February in Quebec to favourable reviews, the movie, directed by Gilles Nöel, is now out in DVD, with English subtitles, in the rest of Canada.

Born in England, Watson grew up in London, Ont., and has made Montreal her home since her days at Concordia. She has toured across Canada and in Europe.

She was introduced to Toronto at the Harbourfront blues festival in 1998, guesting with Big Daddy G (she is also on his 2000 CD, Topless). She has been nominated for several Maple Blues Awards, has appeared at the 2002 Women's Blues Revue, and is part of this year's Women's Blues Revue at Massey Hall on November 27.

In her home province, Watson has been nominated for Lys Blues Awards in three categories. She performs in and hosts an annual women's blues show in Montreal, which this year contributed $2,000 to a women's shelter. "It's a chance for me to do my songs that are based around women's issue," she says.

Watson is currently finishing her sophomore CD. She is considering recording an acoustic CD, and people are asking her to do a jazz recording. Since the release of Jack Paradise, Watson has been in demand to sing jazz in Montreal.

"I'm not sure of the direction of my music," she says, "but it will always have a roots and blues feel."

For more information about Watson, visit www.dawntylerwatson.com.

- Ruth Schweitzer - Maple Blues Magazine Cover Story (Sept-04)

"Blues Revue (Healy's Show 16-05-02)"

There are so few Dawn Tyler Watson sightings in Toronto that any chance to see her is a chance worth talking. Such was the case on this night when Healey's - a newly vital, year-old blues club designed, staffed and played regularly by its namesake, Jeff Healey - turned out a spectacular show full of guest enthused at the opportunity to support this fast-rising star.

Watson, in a nutshell, smokes. Her sultry voice combines with a fiery stage presence, a kit bag full of smooth moves, and a personality that lifts off the page. She could sing children's rhymes and make them interesting to watch.

She's also full of surprises. Watson's newest record, Ten Dollar Dress, captures her musical heart in its many personalities, from jazz singer to blues belter. At the drop of a hat, she'll scat with the best of them, swing hard, rock intensely, or slip into her patented R&B mode that promises to move Motown slightly west of Montreal.

Tonight was a harder-edged Watson ready for anything her band could throw at her - or the other way around. Band members included stalwart rhythm section of Tom Bona(of Sue Foley's band) and Gary Kendall (Downchild Blues Band). Guitarist included Pat Rush (Johnny Winter) and Jeff Healey himself. Local harp hero Jerome Godboo (the Phantoms) added his unique charm and vibrant harmonica twists, while multi-instrumentalist Tyler Viane (Soul Foundation Kimmie Horn) fleshed out the sound with soulful B-3 flourishes, smooth sax, and vocals.

Singer Stacie Tabb (Amanda Marshall) jumped onstage to force Watson over the top on a few blistering soul numbers. Watson's own "Cigarette" kicked off the first of two sets, stoking the crowd with her soft side as Healey and Rush traded solos. The swinging "Rolling Joe" was torqued into high gear by Watson's muscular company, while her take on Stevie Ray Vaughan's "Cold Shot" threatened to damage the shingles. Peggy Lee's "Fever" found a groove that defined the standard, and "Born Under a Bad Sign" let both guitarists shine.

The coup de grace was Watson's treatment of " Little Wing", which soured into the stratosphere with the velvet fury of a tropical storm. Goosebumps preceded thunderous applause. "Standing On Shaky Ground" segued into Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music", with Kendall and Bona driving it down to he bone at Viaene's sax explored uncharted territory. Healey and Rush added fire to each excursion, pushing Watson to think of new ways to test her compatriots.

The second set was more relaxed and adventurous, probing covers from Stevie Wonder's "Superstition" and Bob Marley's "No Woman No Cry" (with Tabb) to Aretha Franklin's " Chain of Fools".

Watson pulled off any conceivable direction with ease; you'd think she and the band had been playing together for years. (In fact, the looks they occasionally traded gave them away.) This was no Ten Dollar Dress party but a rougher, tougher representation of Watson's potential, surrounded by musicians who shared her sense of playful adventure. She can't return to this town soon enough.

Author: Eric Thom
- Blues Revue Magazine (Oct/Nov 2002)

"CD Review"

Ten Dollar Dress
Preservation Records
review by Christopher Michaels

Dawn Tyler Watson is a singer / songwriter from Montreal. Up until now she has been vertually unheard of outside Quebec where she is quite well known. This album is being promoted as a blues recording but it is really much more. The songwirting is exceptional and brings to mind some of the best work from Tracy Chapman or Rickie Lee Jones. All of the tunes except one were written by Watson who is originally from London and got her start singing in local clubs in the 80's.

Everything about this recording is first rate, the sound quality is excellent, and the band is very supportive. Dawn has a sultry voice which combines elements of blues, jazz and pop into a fully developed style of her own. There are several standout tunes including the funky "Come-n'-get-it" and the poppy "Hey Hey". Several of the tunes could cross-over to adult radio. This recording is one of the finest blues recordings released so far this year. It will undoubtably receive a Juno Nomination.

- Scene Magazine (04-02)


Ten Dollar Dress, Dawn Tyler Blues Project
Jack Paradise Soundtrack, w/ James Gelfand
Live at Healy's w/ Jeff Healy
A Canadian Rendez Vous w/ Bob Walsh
Preservation Blues Review Compilation
Sony's Red, White & Blues Compilation



Montreal's Jazz & Blues diva, Dawn Tyler Watson is an accomplished performer, who in recent years, has become a major force on the Canadian Blues scene with her group the Dawn Tyler Blues Project. She's a two-time winner of the Quebec Lys Blues, for Best Female Artist (2003 and 2004), the 2002 International Screamin' Jay Hawkins Award for live performance (France,) and has earned numerous Maple Blues Awards nominations including two-time Entertainer of the Year and seven-time Female Vocalist of the Year (Canada).

Dawn's debut CD, "Ten Dollar Dress," is an eclectic mix of original blues, that pushes the limits of the traditional "Ma Moma Done Told Me". From Folk to Jazz to Rock 'n Roll and beyond, the album spotlights an exceptional songwriting talent as well. The effort received much praise upon its release earning her two more MBA nominations for Best Album, and Best Producer in 2002.

Though she's been Dubbed Montreal's "Queen of the Blues" Dawn is equally adept in Jazz, and has become one of the city's finest sirens. In addition to writing and touring, She recently re-booted her acting career, earning herself the lead role opposite famed Quebec heartthrob Roy Dupuis in the feature film "Jack Paradise - Les Nuits De Montréal". The film, which is set in the city's Jazz hay day of 1930 thru to 1970, opened to much acclaim in February of last year. Dawn is also the featured vocalist on the original soundtrack by pianist/composer James Gelfand, which is poised to receive a nod in the upcoming Jutra Awards (2005).

Dawn is currently working on her sophmore album set for release in Spring 2005...stay tuned!