Zoe Theodorou
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Zoe Theodorou

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REAL STYLE
Jazz singer’s fashion sense helps her music stand out
L I N COLN PHILLIP
“I just want me to stand out,” says one of Calgary’s rising stars, local jazz chanteuse Zoë Theodorou. “As much as I love the clothes and accessories, I want to connect somebody with me.”
As we discuss personal style in a dimly lit smoke-free bistro, classic jazz hits sung by some of Theodorou’s favourite divas like Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan fill the air.
By the end of January, Theodorou will be connecting to us on a soulful level through her debut CD release, The Essence of Life, which includes her current single, called Time.
The songs on her first album are all written by Theodorou and give us a glimpse into her own life (Zoë means “life” in Greek) — both the triumph and the pain.
“I want to convey the sentiment that women are worthy and special,” not just sex objects, she says. “I want to build people up.”
Her music is a soulful jazz, reminiscent of Sade and Anita Baker, but the voice and material are very much Theodorou’s own. She recorded The Essence of Life in Texas and mixed it in Los Angeles, with a full complement of musicians and a Grammy winning sound engineer. (For more information on Theodorou’s music, check out www.zoemusic.ca).
Theodorou, a native of Florida, is a natural talent who confessed she did not start singing seriously until she moved to Calgary from Montreal in 1999. “I used to sing only in the shower, until I took a vocal workshop and the woman who was running it convinced me to start singing seriously,” she says.
Theodorou’s first big break occurred when she was offered an opportunity of a six-month tour in Asia with an L.A.-based jazz band. “So I quit my job and went on tour, which was also my first gig!”
Ironically, the band members had never heard Theodorou sing before hiring her, but just went by the word of a friend of her voice coach. However, the events of 9/11 put their touring to a stop, and Theodorou found herself back in Calgary, singing with Calgary based band Soul Council.
Then, with the help of another friend, in 2005 Theodorou starred in the fourth season of Taking it Off, a Canadian documentary/reality TV show about weight loss.
“It was really weird having a camera crew film me on a daily basis, even to a Brazilian waxing!” she laughs.
Theodorou successfully made her personal weight loss goal and continues to challenge herself both personally and professionally.
“There is a bit of courage in being yourself and not a cookie cutter,” she says.
She describes her style as: Eclectic. “It’s kind of funky and classy at the same time.”
Best shopping score: Theodorou recently bought a killer vintage red fox fur stole for $45. “It’s a fabulous capelette style stole that is very Alexis Carrington circa Dynasty 1985.”
Regrettable purchase: Theodorou confesses her lapse of fashion sense when she purchased an ’80s-inspired neon pink and black chevron stripe shirt with leg-of-mutton sleeves, embellished with a detachable flower. “I never wore this shirt, but I kept the flower because it worked with other outfits, so it wasn’t a complete bust.”
Biggest shopping splurge: Ten years ago, Theodorou bought a fabulous faux gold coin necklace and earrings designed by New York based fashion jewelry line Ben-Amun, valued at $400. “It was kind of silly to spend that much money for fake stuff, but I still have them, and still wear them.”
Guilty shopping pleasure: “I don’t think I’ve ever felt guilt while shopping — the two just don’t go together!” she says with a laugh.
Item of clothing that she never wears but cannot get rid of: A bikini.
Signature accessory: Theodorou’s look is always completed with a pair of large hoop earrings and her curly mane. Signature fragrance: Prada. Style influences: Theodorou relies on the look-good, feel-good philosophy. “You can’t let anything wear you. If you’re not feeling comfortable or confident, then you won’t pull off that look successfully. Just be courageous and yourself in everything you do,” she says.
Style icons: Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Onassis, Chloe Sevigny and Gwen Stefani top Theodorou’s list. “Take what works from your influences and icons and put it together in a way that is fresh and uniquely your own,” she advises.
Favourite places to shop: Holt Renfrew, Purr and Smyth & Kang.
Key wardrobe pieces: A great pair of black pants and a shift dress.
Best fashion statement: Theodorou exudes star power in a red knee-length halter dress reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch.
Look of the season she is wearing: “I love the red and purple combination that is happening — both in clothes and in makeup,” she says. “I also recently bought a pair of slouchy leather gloves that are shown with everything.”
Her closet is full of: Black clothing mainly used for gigs, and lots of costume jewelry.
If Theodorou were a style cop, she would write up this citation: For the ladies: bad over-processed hair, too much eyeliner, ill-fitting clothes and fleece vests. For the guys: chinos/dockers paired with company logo golf shirt or button-down jean shirt, and any type of “blond tipped” highlights in their hair.
What sparked her interest in style: Playing dress-up was always fun for Theodorou because her mom’s wardrobe provided all the necessary items for a budding diva. “My mom’s designer wardrobe was complete with purses and matching shoes, accessories, and even wigs and hairpieces,” she says.
- Calgary Herald


Discography

Essence of Life

Photos

Bio

Growing up in Clearwater Florida, she first found her voice in various high school productions. After moving to Canada, and attending several jazz vocal workshops, she was asked to go overseas, where she sharpened her singing and performing talents in a show band. When she returned to Canada, she developed her jazz skills, while fronting a popular R & B Band. Her other credits include being featured vocally on various commercials and jingles as well as being showcased on the nationally syndicated CBC Radio Two show “Disc Drive”, where she performed live acoustic versions of selected material from her new album.

Because of her natural gift to relate to people both musically and personally, Zoë was chosen to be in the fourth season of the popular award winning Canadian documentary/reality show “Taking It Off” which airs on the Life Network across Canada, and on the Discovery Channel in the U.K.

The excitement, energy and life which are the very essence of Zoë (her name means “life” in Greek) will now be harnessed, as she promotes her full length album of original material entitled “Essence of Life”. There is no doubt that -- true to her name’s meaning – she brings life to everything she does.