Joanna Chapman-Smith
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Joanna Chapman-Smith

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE

Toronto, Ontario, Canada | INDIE
Band Folk Singer/Songwriter

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She is “the slinky-voiced Canadian whose arch acoustic musings come laced with a hint of Parisian cafes.” - Q Magazine (UK)


She is “the slinky-voiced Canadian whose arch acoustic musings come laced with a hint of Parisian cafes.” - Q Magazine (UK)


“Exceptional… a creative and skilled vocalist.” - National Public Radio (USA)


“Exceptional… a creative and skilled vocalist.” - National Public Radio (USA)


“Chapman-Smith... rises above the herd of folkie singer-songwriters.” - The Georgia Straight


“Chapman-Smith... rises above the herd of folkie singer-songwriters.” - The Georgia Straight


Joanna has an "introspective, laid-bare approach to her music—you don’t put stickers on a Stradivarius." - THE GRID


Joanna has an "introspective, laid-bare approach to her music—you don’t put stickers on a Stradivarius." - THE GRID


"Uniquely talented... She’s got the whole package" - THE TORONTO STAR


"Uniquely talented... She’s got the whole package" - THE TORONTO STAR


Joanna Chapman-Smith is, “one of Canada’s best, with a gorgeous, fluid voice." - The Province


Joanna Chapman-Smith is, “one of Canada’s best, with a gorgeous, fluid voice." - The Province


"She makes it look effortless, but there’s nothing simple at play." - THE GLOBE & MAIL


"She makes it look effortless, but there’s nothing simple at play." - THE GLOBE & MAIL


Chapman-Smith not afraid of shadow puppets, mimes
Eclectic evening of music, dance and jamming promises to be 'radsauce'

-------------------------------

Ah, the life of a bohemian artist. Travelling, creating, talking all night about Godard and Kafka at cafés. And living with roommates. Four, in the case of musician Joanna Chapman-Smith--which makes five women (and a female cat) in a Vancouver East Side house, all sharing one bathroom.

No wonder she recently spent a couple of months in Toronto. "No, it totally works out," says Chapman-Smith, reached at home. "We all use it at different times anyway."

Chapman-Smith was raised out east, and then moved to Vancouver to study English at Simon Fraser University. "It was one of my few life attempts to never do music again," she says.
Joanna Chapman-Smith celebrates the release of her new CD Contraries and an evening away from her crowded East Side house with a show at the Ukrainian Hall Jan. 30.

The attempt failed: Chapman-Smith lasted one semester before joining the music program, which offered an education in sounds and techniques from Africa and Indonesia. But the music on Contraries, her just-released second album, is influenced more by styles like Gypsy jazz from Eastern Europe.

"It's been around me the entire time growing up," says the dark-featured singer. "I don't know this for sure, but I imagine it's also part of how I look. People presume I'm already part of their culture, or want to share it with me. Anyway I've had a lot of Latin and Eastern European music thrown my way. I totally love it, the scales drive me wild."

Is there enough room in Vancouver for two klezmer musicians--i.e. Chapman-Smith and accordion player Geoff Berner? "There's more than two, so there better be," she says. "There are tons. But Geoff Berner came first, and he's one of the people I'm influenced by. We share the same drummer [Wayne Adams]."

On her album of mostly lighthearted, intimate-sounding folk-pop songs, Chapman-Smith spices up Contraries with accordion, cello and whistling. It also offers some thoughtful lyrics by Chapman-Smith, such as on "Arbitrary Lines," a song about easy categorization: "So what is pure/And when is right... Where do these lines first come from/Who marks them down and why?"

Her CD release show at the Ukrainian Hall Jan. 30 promises to blur a few lines with its multimedia format. For instance, one of the opening acts, Maria in the Shower, has "a demonic mime thing going on," according to Chapman-Smith. A local company called Mind of a Snail will "jam along" to her music with shadow puppets. And Chapman-Smith has drawn on her connections with SFU's dance program.

"I worked as a dance accompanist for three years, and it influenced the kind of music I was writing," she says. "So I'm excited some of the dancers have choreographed two of my songs."

Whatever happens, the evening is bound to be, in a term used by Chapman-Smith on her website, "radsauce."

"Just the word 'rad' is very West Coast," she says. "I remember in first year university hearing people say 'That's rad,' and I was like, 'Oh man. That's rad that you say 'rad'!"

"Radsauce," she says, is a recent addition to her vocabulary. "'Sauce' and 'bone' are my favourite suffixes," says the musician. So she'll make up words like "sweetsauce" or "sweetbone" or "damnsauce."

Does this mean she'll throw a few bones and sauces to the audience between songs at her CD release party? Chapman-Smith says, "I do not vouch for anything I might or may not say."


© Vancouver Courier 2009 - Vancouver Courier


Chapman-Smith not afraid of shadow puppets, mimes
Eclectic evening of music, dance and jamming promises to be 'radsauce'

-------------------------------

Ah, the life of a bohemian artist. Travelling, creating, talking all night about Godard and Kafka at cafés. And living with roommates. Four, in the case of musician Joanna Chapman-Smith--which makes five women (and a female cat) in a Vancouver East Side house, all sharing one bathroom.

No wonder she recently spent a couple of months in Toronto. "No, it totally works out," says Chapman-Smith, reached at home. "We all use it at different times anyway."

Chapman-Smith was raised out east, and then moved to Vancouver to study English at Simon Fraser University. "It was one of my few life attempts to never do music again," she says.
Joanna Chapman-Smith celebrates the release of her new CD Contraries and an evening away from her crowded East Side house with a show at the Ukrainian Hall Jan. 30.

The attempt failed: Chapman-Smith lasted one semester before joining the music program, which offered an education in sounds and techniques from Africa and Indonesia. But the music on Contraries, her just-released second album, is influenced more by styles like Gypsy jazz from Eastern Europe.

"It's been around me the entire time growing up," says the dark-featured singer. "I don't know this for sure, but I imagine it's also part of how I look. People presume I'm already part of their culture, or want to share it with me. Anyway I've had a lot of Latin and Eastern European music thrown my way. I totally love it, the scales drive me wild."

Is there enough room in Vancouver for two klezmer musicians--i.e. Chapman-Smith and accordion player Geoff Berner? "There's more than two, so there better be," she says. "There are tons. But Geoff Berner came first, and he's one of the people I'm influenced by. We share the same drummer [Wayne Adams]."

On her album of mostly lighthearted, intimate-sounding folk-pop songs, Chapman-Smith spices up Contraries with accordion, cello and whistling. It also offers some thoughtful lyrics by Chapman-Smith, such as on "Arbitrary Lines," a song about easy categorization: "So what is pure/And when is right... Where do these lines first come from/Who marks them down and why?"

Her CD release show at the Ukrainian Hall Jan. 30 promises to blur a few lines with its multimedia format. For instance, one of the opening acts, Maria in the Shower, has "a demonic mime thing going on," according to Chapman-Smith. A local company called Mind of a Snail will "jam along" to her music with shadow puppets. And Chapman-Smith has drawn on her connections with SFU's dance program.

"I worked as a dance accompanist for three years, and it influenced the kind of music I was writing," she says. "So I'm excited some of the dancers have choreographed two of my songs."

Whatever happens, the evening is bound to be, in a term used by Chapman-Smith on her website, "radsauce."

"Just the word 'rad' is very West Coast," she says. "I remember in first year university hearing people say 'That's rad,' and I was like, 'Oh man. That's rad that you say 'rad'!"

"Radsauce," she says, is a recent addition to her vocabulary. "'Sauce' and 'bone' are my favourite suffixes," says the musician. So she'll make up words like "sweetsauce" or "sweetbone" or "damnsauce."

Does this mean she'll throw a few bones and sauces to the audience between songs at her CD release party? Chapman-Smith says, "I do not vouch for anything I might or may not say."


© Vancouver Courier 2009 - Vancouver Courier


Accordions can be brandished as sonic weapons, sitting heavy and poised for raucous, foot-stomping mayhem. Not so for Joanna Chapman-Smith.

Jazzy, soulful vocals dominate Chapman-Smith’s “Canadian ethnic folk” — a mellow collection of folksy tunes that also features clarinet, piano, stand-up bass, scattered percussion flourishes, whistling and even an a capella duet (Body Language).

Autobiographical stories like Carnival Song and Between the Mind shine over Chapman-Smith’s sparse arrangements and restrained instrumentation. The resulting album plays more like a summertime porch lullaby than a gypsy punk party.

Listen to Joanna Chapman-Smith at myspace.com/joannacs - Metro Canada


Accordions can be brandished as sonic weapons, sitting heavy and poised for raucous, foot-stomping mayhem. Not so for Joanna Chapman-Smith.

Jazzy, soulful vocals dominate Chapman-Smith’s “Canadian ethnic folk” — a mellow collection of folksy tunes that also features clarinet, piano, stand-up bass, scattered percussion flourishes, whistling and even an a capella duet (Body Language).

Autobiographical stories like Carnival Song and Between the Mind shine over Chapman-Smith’s sparse arrangements and restrained instrumentation. The resulting album plays more like a summertime porch lullaby than a gypsy punk party.

Listen to Joanna Chapman-Smith at myspace.com/joannacs - Metro Canada


The original songs of Vancouver singer-songwriter Joanna Chapman-Smith move between darkness and light. Lyrically inspired by William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (which requires some mood-shifting), she appears musically inspired by Jeff Buckley, Ani DiFranco, and the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band.

The songs can be autobiographical (Urbanity), probing (Arbitrary Lines, which examines the us-versus-them mentality) or resigned (A Glass of Right & Wrong, which states, "Why get it right when it feels much better to get it wrong.").

Chapman-Smith plays guitar, keyboards and clarinet, the latter instrument used on the disc's plentiful klezmer, waltz and polka-step numbers. Dawn Zoe's accordion works well on the arrangements, and Marc L'Esperance's violin highlights In the Quiet, one of the better tracks.

— Marke Andrews - The Vancouver Sun


The original songs of Vancouver singer-songwriter Joanna Chapman-Smith move between darkness and light. Lyrically inspired by William Blake's The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (which requires some mood-shifting), she appears musically inspired by Jeff Buckley, Ani DiFranco, and the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band.

The songs can be autobiographical (Urbanity), probing (Arbitrary Lines, which examines the us-versus-them mentality) or resigned (A Glass of Right & Wrong, which states, "Why get it right when it feels much better to get it wrong.").

Chapman-Smith plays guitar, keyboards and clarinet, the latter instrument used on the disc's plentiful klezmer, waltz and polka-step numbers. Dawn Zoe's accordion works well on the arrangements, and Marc L'Esperance's violin highlights In the Quiet, one of the better tracks.

— Marke Andrews - The Vancouver Sun


Discography

Eyre Corvidae (2006)
Lily Come Down (2008)
Contraries (2009)
Love Me Deeply (2013)

Photos

Bio

Toronto-based artist Joanna Chapman-Smith's musical scope is matched only by the diversity of her heritage. The well-travelled songwriter and vocalist has familial roots in Canada, USA, New Zealand, Italy and Brazil, and her three studio albums draw on this richness of experience. She has studied music, literature, vocal science, circus skills and folklore and worked with a range of musicians whose credits are as widespread as Nina Simone and Bedouin Soundclash.

Her touring history is no different: She has performed headline shows in Eastern and Western Canada, the USA, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Italy, the UK and Denmark in support of her releases, developing a balance of emotional depth and technical skill which has earned her excellent critical praise and a loyal audience over several continents.

Between her last two albums – “Contraries” (2009) and “Love Me Deeply” (2013) – Chapman-Smith's health took a turn for the worse, causing her to lose her voice completely. Amidst concern from doctors that the loss may be permanent, she began a journey of re-discovery and re-connection with her voice which led to its return, stronger and more versatile than before. The depth of this connection was not lost on her, and she began studies with some of the world leaders in vocal science, including Dr. Ingo R. Titze and Dr. Kittie Verdolini-Abbott, forging a personal connection between the physical qualities and the emotional power of the voice.

“Love Me Deeply” charts the parallel themes of Voice Lost and Recovered and Love Lost and Found, and is made up of the songs that formed part of that journey. At times disarmingly personal, and showcasing her depth of vocal understanding throughout, the album was written and recorded over a year in Vancouver, BC, and features some of Canada's best players, including Albert St. Albert (Nina Simone), Jaron Freeman-Fox (Oliver Shroer, Ben Caplan, Sam Lee) and Sarah MacDougall. The album was mixed in England at Valley Wood Studio by Barkley McKay (The Pretty Things, Crystal Gayle) under the supervision of her co-producer Mat Martin (Kreg Viesselman, Myshkin).

Since it's release in Canada this year, “Love Me Deeply” has received critical acclaim in several of the major Canadian publications, including The Globe & Mail, The Province and The Toronto Star. The previous album, “Contraries”, garnered airplay in over fifteen countries, including on the CBC, the BBC and NPR. Her song from that album “Melodies” won the Best Acoustic Song category in the 9th Annual Independent Music Awards, for which the judging panel included songwriting legend Tom Waits.

Chapman-Smith has received funding from the Canada Council for the Arts and the Toronto Arts Council in support of her touring and her ongoing “Folk Tale” project, conducting creative research into a global cross-section of traditional folklore and composing new songs based on them – an established project which was awarded a new round of funding in 2013. She is also the founder of the Songbirds Travelling Music School which delivers music, vocal and creative workshops in the hearts of existing communities.

New work from the “Folk Tale” and Songbirds projects will be premiered in January 2014 at Toronto's Hugh's Room, where “Love Me Deeply” was launched to a full house in 2013.