Shannon Butcher

Shannon Butcher

 Toronto, Ontario, CAN

Expanding the jazz songbook through original pop/folk infused material and unique vocal arrangements of contemporary hits.

Band Press

Shannon Butcher - Live in Hamilton – The View - Hamilton's Weekly

Tears for Fears will likely never be canonized for their contributions to the world of jazz, an exclusion that even the most casual fans of the genre would find understandable.
Shannon Butcher might disagree.
Butcher re–imagined the band’s early–’80s hit “Mad World” for her recent release, Words We Both Could Say. The album, which iTunes included in its 2008 top ten lists for Best Vocal Jazz Album and Best New Jazz Artist, also features Butcher’s take on No Doubt’s “Just a Girl” and Blondie’s “Call Me.”
“I love the idea of reaching that person who maybe doesn’t think of jazz as the music that they listen to,” she explains.
“When they hear a song that they know, like “Mad World”, I hope the lyrics will take on a new meaning because the style gives it a new inflection.”
That’s not to say her selections are gimmicky; Butcher is simply an ardent music fan as well as an artist, and spends her time trolling through YouTube clips and Myspace pages in search of the songs she loved while growing up. Her favourite tunes may not all be jazz classics, but songs that are as enjoyable to listen to as they are for her to sing.
“I think it’s a combination of a lot of different styles,” explains Butcher, whose performances have been described as a fusion of jazz, pop, and rock.
“There’s been a lot of putting jazz in this sophisticated, martini–drinking, Cadillac–commercial vein. I don’t want people to think, ‘I have no idea about the history of jazz’ (and thus be hesitant to listen to new releases). You don’t have to have the Ken Burns box set to appreciate it.”
Butcher will be recording new material this year, a task she handles free from the constraints of record agency overlords by operating her own label, Summer Bloom Records. Butcher feels lucky that recent changes in the music industry coupled with accessible technology have made this possible.
“It’s an advantage today that you probably wouldn’t be able to do 20 years ago,” she notes.
“That’s really exciting for me. If the important thing is the music and making your own music why wouldn’t you do it that way? I think it’s really changing how people are making it big.”
Despite her enthusiasm for recording, Butcher is still clearly in love with performing live. Currently, she will be sharing a bill with former Nylons frontman Micah Barnes as part of the Up Jumped Spring: Butcher and Barnes Sing tour.
“Micah and I have been working really hard to get those dates together, and we have this wonderful rapport,” says Butcher, who favours live jazz for the simple reason that it allows for change.
“The relationship changes when you are creating that music in the moment. That’s the adventure.”

Both Londons get visit from creative jazz singer  – The London Free Press

Not many Canadian jazz singers play London, England, and the London Music Club back-to-back.

Tonight, Toronto's Shannon Butcher, alongside the ex-Nylon who calls her "his partner-in-crime," looks to be one of them.

Just back from a Tourism Toronto showcase for the city's music scene in the other London, Butcher is to join former Nylons star Micah Barnes as part of their Up Jumped Spring tour.

Plans called for Butcher to fly in from Britain today and drive to the London club tonight. A stretch? Sure, but then Butcher had been at a Dundas Square gig in Toronto earlier this week just before jetting to England and back.

Butcher doesn't mind stretching the envelope. She covers Tears for Fears, Blondie and No Doubt on her iTunes hit album, Words We Both Could Say. "I love the idea of reaching that person who maybe doesn't think of jazz as the music that they listen to," she tells a Hamilton weekly.

"When they hear a song that they know, like Mad World (by Tears for Fears), I hope the lyrics will take on a new meaning because the style gives it a new inflection."

When Butcher left the jazz vocal trio Swing Rosie in 2007 she sought advice from Barnes. Following the release of her debut CD and his coaching gig on CBC-TV's How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria, the two vocalists began planning to tour together. Their topflight touring band includes Barnes's brother, composer/drummer Daniel Barnes, along with pianist Michael Shand (Matt Dusk, DK Ibomeka) and bassist Ross MacIntyre (Emilie-Claire Barlow, Jesse Cooke).

Micah Barnes is busy, too. His sets mix his own songs with pop and jazz standards. He is the musical director of a new production of The Ecstasy of Rita Joe. The George Ryga classic of Canadian drama is back at Ottawa's National Arts Centre this month, as a celebration of its opening in 1969 with a production of the play.

"Most newly minted jazz divas have to really work at being original," Barnes tells Ottawa's "But Shannon is such an excellent musician that she has this unerring taste for what songs work for her and what makes a great show."


What: Club show by Canadian jazz singer Shannon Butcher and ex-Nylon Micah Barnes.

When: Tonight, 7 p.m.

Where: London Music Club, 470 Colborne St.

Details: $12 (plus applicable charges). Call 519-640-6996 or visit

Shannon Butcher: a creative take on a living genre – The Women's Post

“With a voice that is both youthful and mature, soulful yet playful, jazz artist Shannon Butcher demonstrates the ability to echo the smoky, sultry elements of female jazz greats.”

John Sakamoto's The Anti-Hit List – The Toronto Star

7. SHANNON BUTCHER "Just a Girl"
Re-imagining a squeaky No Doubt hit as a seriously swinging jazz workout may smack of novelty, but this Toronto vocalist has both the facility and the band to make it make sense. And to prove she's no one-trick pony, Butcher takes the opposite approach with Blondie's disco thumper "Call Me," turning it into a slow, candle-lit piano ballad."

Shannon Butcher at the Rex – The Globe & Mail

Brad Wheeler, Globe & Mail - July 10, 2008
“Although no longer a member of the Andrews Sister-style trio Swing Rosie, the lively vocalist still swings - delightfully so, with mischievously jazzy pop covers.”

Words We Both Could Say on Australian Radio – PBS 106.7FM, Melbourne

"Words We Could Both Say hit the mark from the opening notes of track one with its stunning Latin Jazz flavour. Then fearlessly takes rock and roll standards and breathes new life into them...this is an exceptional album that would be hard pressed to match. Here is a jazz album for now, not accepting just anything will do but rather stepping out and commanding attention."

One of my favourite discs this year. – Jazz.FM91

"Shannon Butcher is a delight - a sassy, swinging and satisfying artist. The exuberance, wit and delight she takes in singing all come through on every track. One of my favourite new discs this year." - David Basskin

4 Stars for Little Hearts – Eye Weekly, Toronto

After the success of her first album, Words We Both Could Say, catapulted her into iTunes’ top 10 for Best Vocal Jazz Album, Shannon Butcher returns with her sophomore disc, Little Hearts. As on her debut, the local singer covers pop songs like Lily Allen’s “Smile,” and Bryan Adams’ “Run to You” and modifies the arrangements into pieces that are as cheeky as the lyrics. On the six original compositions on the album, Butcher delivers the perfect mixture of uptempo jazz-pop and sultry vocals. The ballads “I Ain’t in the Mood for no DJ” and “Hush” flow smoothly and seductively, their combination of piano and tenor sax recreating the atmosphere of a half moon booth in a cozy club. With tracks like these, Little Hearts will be melting a few hearts of its own.

This jazz singer loves her Madonna and Radiohead ... Bryan Adams and Coldplay, too. – The National Post

In black tights and an aqua running shirt, Shannon Butcher strikes an unusual portrait of a jazz chanteuse. The 33-year-old may sing like Edith Piaf or Billie Holiday, but trotting around the waterfront and through the Toronto Music Garden, the singer-composer says her biggest vices are brunch in Bloor West Village and organic food.

“My aunt was a police officer and she’s super fit,” Butcher says on a jog after rehearsal, days before the release of Little Hearts, her second solo jazz album. “In a way, running is like being a performer -- you have to set goals and be comfortable doing what you can, but the most important part is taking that first step.”

Jogging across Bathurst Street on this cloudless morning, as she’s done three times a week for the past six years, the High Park resident says the city’s running paths have been incubators for many of her best musical ideas.

“The times when you feel like you don’t want to go running are exactly the times when you ought to get out there,” she explains, mentioning that she ticks off kilometres to the beat of Madonna, Radiohead and jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown on her iPod. “Sometimes lyrics or arrangements come to me when I’m running and there’s this spark of imagination -- what’s that saying? Free your body, free your mind.”

Butcher has laced up her Saucony sneakers in the last six Sporting Life 10K races and also calls herself a “Lululemon girl.” Bobbing along the path behind Ontario Place, she says it’s just as natural to find a jazz singer at the Running Room as it is to find one at a nightclub, and that it’s perfectly normal for a musician to listen to both Irving Berlin and Duran Duran.

“Good music is my only genre,” says Butcher, whose first record made a jazz hit of No Doubt’s Just a Girl. Her new album features sax and piano arrangements of Smile by Lilly Allen and Bryan Adams’ Run To You. “Some people don’t like Coldplay -- I happen to like them a lot -- but if you see them in concert, they’re always playing new arrangements of their songs. A good song can be done any number of ways.”

Butcher’s spending her summer at jazz festivals across the city, including a homecoming show during next month’s Beaches Jazz Festival at the Rex, where she had a year-long residency last year. Of course, all the late nights, tours and performances are probably going to interfere with her running, but Butcher says it’s when things get craziest that she turns to running the most.

“When you’re running you set your own schedule,” she says. “Less so when there’s a record to promote.”

--Little Hearts is in stores now. For tour dates, see

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Inspiring a younger crowd – Metro

Butcher’s solo record,... is chalk full of bold song arrangements and alluring beautiful vocals on songs like Tears for Fears Mad World, Blondie’s Call Me, along with No Doubt’s I’m Just A Girl.