Nicole Edwards
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Nicole Edwards

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Friday, January 11, 2008
By Chris Oke Special to the News


PAGE 1:4

Nicole Edwards explores her jazz side in her new album, Sparkin'. The CD release party is Saturday at the Yukon Arts Centre.
For Nicole Edwards music is music, regardless of the genre.
This time her new album, Sparkin’, showcases her versatile singing voice gracefully tackling jazz.
Given the elegant ease that Edwards displays throughout the album, it’s easy to forget that this is a complete genre switch for the artist.
Edwards’ previous albums have all been in the singer/songwriter or folk-rock category with a little blues influence.
“But I’ve always loved jazz,” said Edwards.
“When I was a little, I loved to sing and I always asked my mom to teach me songs. Those were the songs she knew — the jazz standards.
“So I learned a lot of songs just singing with my mom.”
Mother and daughter would sing On the Sunny Side of the Street while out for a walk.
And while out berry picking the two could be heard belting out the lively Five Foot Two Eyes of Blue.
The new album offers up-beat interpretations of both of these classics along with eight other jazz standards.
Edwards has also written two originals for this, her third solo album: We’ve Got Love and the title track, Sparkin’.
The album was recorded live and perhaps for this reason it conjures up images of a smoky jazz lounge.
Although it was recorded in the studio, you can almost hear the clinking of glasses and whispers from the tables around you.
Then the spotlight shines on the singer at centre stage who draws you in as she croons soulfully, adding her own fun and flavour to each standard she sings.
The set presents a fine mixture of up-tempo toe-tappers and dark, bluesy numbers.
A few songs even show linguistic diversity, with Edwards singing in both French (La Vie en Rose) and Spanish (Besame Mucho).
She is accompanied by the solid piano and organ of Annie Avery, Jon Heaton on bass, Ed Write on drums and Sebastien Bujon on saxophone.
“I always thought that I’d get around to doing jazz sometime, and finally have,” she said.
Edwards enjoyed the genre switch.
She enjoyed it so much, in fact, that she will switch again and perform a waltz on the Yukon Women in Music compilation CD to be recorded this winter.
On January 19, Edwards will also be opening for Sam Roberts at Byte’s 10th Annual Youth Conference.
It’s fitting that she will take part in the 10th anniversary of the organization, considering that Edwards helped start it.
Fighting back tears Edwards apologized for getting emotional.
“It was just really nice that Byte involved me,” she said.
She hasn’t been able to participate with the organization since she had to leave five years ago because of an illness.
She has an autoimmune disease called scleroderma, which causes a hardening of the body’s connective tissue.
The effects are apparent in the skin but can affect the whole body. Edwards has it in her lungs and it’s also affected her esophagus.
Playing music has become difficult.
“I can’t play the flute or the guitar anymore because my hands are deformed and my mouth has changed,” said Edwards.
“That’s another reason that makes jazz really fun for me because I can just sing and not have to worry about my hands.”
Edwards is treating the disease with an alternative medicine known as hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
Nearly two years ago, a large fundraiser was held in Whitehorse to allow Edwards to try the treatment for the first time.
“It had a dramatic effect on my breathing — I’m really thankful that the community supported me to go do that,” she said.
“At the time I didn’t know if it would help or not, but it really has.
“I’m doing things I haven’t done in four years.”
There was no CD release party for Joy Seeker, the last disc Edwards put out, because she wasn’t able to perform live.
But lately she’s been performing more and is now organizing this concert.
Normally, Edwards has to perform seated but at the Halloween masquerade this year she was strong enough to perform her second set standing.
“There’s no way I could have done that a year ago.”
The Sparkin’ CD release party will be held this Saturday at the Yukon Arts Centre.
Opening for Edwards is the young swing quartet Come Eat a Cat.
Tickets are $20 and will be limited, as the show will be held with cabaret style seating.
- Yukon News


Discography

2008 Sparkin' CD
2005 Joy Seeker EP
2001 on with my day CD

Photos

Bio

Yukon-based Nicole Edwards blazed her musical trail as an unplugged songstress with a voice equal parts grit, smoke and confection. The ability to sink her voice to the low end of the musical register and rocket it back up to the top of the scale has served her well while grinding gravel-tinged songs from the stage.

Her first solo CD, “on with my day,” released in 2001, earned her a West Coast Music Award nomination and an invitation to perform at the event’s gala ceremonies, in Vancouver. Her second effort, Joy Seeker, in 2005, solidified her reputation and marked her territory as the Yukon’s premiere folk-rock diva.

Nicole’s elastic-like vocal range and intrinsic curiosity led her to explore other musical flavours on her third CD. With the 2008 release of Sparkin’, a collection of jazz standards, Nicole has added one more genre to her repertoire and another adjective to join the several that commonly precede her: folk-rock-blues-jazz singer.

Musically fluent in both English and French, Nicole has entertained small, intimate crowds with her acoustic guitar and stirred hundreds of people to shake their rumps on the dnace floor with her high-energy, amped-up sets. She’s shared stages at the Dawson City Music Festival, Hugh’s Room in Toronto, and the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver with Bif Naked, Sylvia Tyson, Ken Whitley and 54 40. Nicole recently opened for the Sam Roberts Band at the Whitehorse Convention Centre, after which Sam described Nicole as “the bearer of gifts” (for the stout beer she bought for the band in Haines, Alaska) and as the “singer of beautiful songs.”

When Nicole isn’t in the studio or performing, she can be found at her home in Mt. Lorne, a pocket-sized community of 380, a half hour’s drive from Whitehorse, the Yukon’s capital.

Her reviewers tell you about Sparkin’:

“Edwards’ voice croons over these tunes with a supple purr. Her voice enunciates the flavour of each song, bringing the listener into the world of each song to expert effect…… Edwards’ voice is unique in the music of the Yukon. She is a real singer of songs, which is to say she not only sings the words, she expresses them. Her voice is supple in the lower register and able to reach the heights of a soprano at will. This ability serves these songs well, allowing Edwards to call these songs her own by virtue of her vocal skill. “Bill Polonsky, What’s Up Yukon

“The album was recorded live and perhaps for this reason it conjures up images of a smoky jazz lounge. Although it was recorded in the studio, you can almost hear the clinking of glasses and whispers from the tables around you. Then the spotlight shines on the singer at centre stage who draws you in as she croons soulfully, adding her own fun and flavour to each standard she sings.”
Chris Oke, Yukon News

“Her voice can portray many emotions and convey the joy that she feels for the songs presented on her new CD titled "Sparkin'". Nicole's delivery is at times sultry, always bluesy and full of life. Her ability to switch between French and English so readily adds another dimension to her performance. I was also impressed by how well her original tunes fit with the other songs presented on this recording. That is no mean feat considering the pedigree of songwriters including Dorothy Fields, Johnny Mercer and the Gerswhin brothers. Equally comfortable on ballads and up tempo numbers, Ms. Edwards has put together a set of songs that holds something for everyone in her audience.” Steve Gedrose, CBC radio jazz columnist

“Warm, rich, playful and wonderfully animated in Edwards’ expressive, clear voice, Sparkin’ is sure to please Edwards’ fans, jazz listeners and music lovers alike.”
Keely Grasser, Almaguin Forestser, Ontario

“Then there are the guaranteed hits such as Nicole Edwards. Jones (DCMF Producer) says she is “such a highlight of music festivals” and she has just released a “terrific” jazz CD, Sparkin’” What’s Up Yukon

Presenting the band:

Annie Avery, piano, a music educator and celebrated jazz performer for over 30 years, who studied jazz at the University of Tennessee and worked with Jerry Coker.

Jon Heaton, stand-up bass, a professional jazz musician and music educator for 10 years who obtained a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies from St. Francis Xavier University and studied with distinguished musicians: Dave Young, Skip Beckwith, and Neil Swainsen.

Ed White, drums, recipient of two Jazz Report Awards (1997 and 1999); two Maple Blues Awards for electric act of the year (1997 and 1999); a Maple Blues Award for drummer of the year in 2000; and a 1997 Juno Award for best blues album.

Sabastien Bujon, saxophones, studied music at Concordia University and currently plays saxophone and flute in a variety of combos, including Montreal’s Brazilian jazz band, Bombolesse.

For CDs or bookings contact Nicole Edwards at:
Berry Pickin’ Productions
Box 10439 Whitehorse
Yukon Territory Y1A 7A1
Phone: 867-63