Category Archives: Other Singers

Diana Krall

Diana Krall

What’s not to like? Smokey voice, great piano, easy listening all day long, especially on a cold, gray day, by the fire with a cup of tea.

Diana Krall was born in Nanaimo, British Columbia on November 16, 1964. She began with classical piano studies at age four, followed by jazz in high school. To say that she grew up in a musical household would be quite the  understatement.  In her upbringing, there was music everywhere and it was a family affair.  On Sundays the family made music and sang together.  Both her father and mother played piano, and Diana says some of her fondest childhood memories are singing and playing piano with her grandmother.

Her first gig (age 15) was playing piano three nights a week at a local hometown restaurant called NHL — a very nice hockey bar.  How perfect for a Canadian girl to begin with hockey!

Then in 1981, Diana won a Vancouver Jazz Festival scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  After studying for a year and a half, she returned home.  Renowned bassist Ray Brown heard her playing one night and was so impressed by what he heard that he took her under his wing. Ray convinced Diana move to Los Angeles where she obtained a Canadian Arts Council grant to study with Jimmy Rowles.  Jimmy encouraged Diana to explore her vocals to supplement her already blossoming piano skills.

And the rest, as they say, is history.  After a few years in Los Angeles and Toronto, she moved to New York in 1990.  Her very first album, “Stepping Out” debuted in 1993, followed by “Only Trust Your Heart” in 1995.

Elvis Costello

After a couple more interim albums, “When I Look in Your Eyes” arrived in 1999 and her success  exploded. The album became an international best-seller and earned her a Grammy for Best Jazz Vocal Performance. It also was the first jazz album to be nominated for Album of the Year in 25 years.

More personally speaking, she married the British musician Elvis Costello in 2003 on Elton Johns’ estate.  They have twin sons, born in December of 2003 in New York City.

So when it’s snowing outside, put a few of her albums on, and cuddle up with something good to read.  For your reference, here is a partial list of her albums.

  • 1993: Stepping Out
  • 1995: Only Trust Your Heart
  • 1996: All for You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio
  • 1997: Love Scenes
  • 1999: When I Look in Your Eyes
  • 2001: The Look of Love
  • 2004: The Girl in the Other Room
  • 2005: Christmas Songs
  • 2006: From This Moment On
  • 2009: Quiet Nights

David Roth — Where Song, Spirit and Speaking Meet

David Roth

There’s just something about David Roth.  He saunters onto the stage and begins telling stories in song and in no time at all, we feel like we’ve known him forever.

He’s honest.  Open.  Candid. He’s also fall down funny.  He calls one on himself at every opportunity, all from a place of confidence in the human spirit, quietly implanting the idea in our hearts and souls that surely (and why not start now) — there’s more of us that can come out to play.

I walked away from David’s concert a better person.  Corny?  For sure.  Still, it’s true.  I became a better person — more myself, more able, more true to who I am — all by listening to David Roth sing and tell stories.

All evening, he simply shared himself, song after song.  How simple is that?

His confidence with the guitar and piano came over us like a soft, happy wave washing out our long day, the cares and worries we may have brought with us, the struggles or tiredness we may have carried into the room.

His instruments are clearly long-time friends and partners.  He often “warms up” on the guitar as he is introducing a song.  I’m not sure why I love that part so much, but I pretty much melted any time he was strumming, tuning and finding chords as he was speaking.  He has a deliciously gentle way of inviting us into his stories.

And then there is David’s “presence factor.”  He’s just there, playing and singing and talking, weaving intricate stories about life, rambling on about an event from his past, and finally catching us with a surprise curve ball as the musical story is falling effortlessly from his fingers.  When he throws a strike (and he’s a very good pitcher), you can hear the funny bones in the room crack open, hearts melting, minds saying “hmmmm….”.

David Roth

The audience last night was palpably awake.   Personally speaking, miracle of miracles, my mind never wandered.  That’s quite a service to humanity in itself — to give us a mental vacation from all we’ve been doing and thinking and feeling — and visit the creative world of David Roth for a little while.  It wasn’t the kind of music where you say to yourself, “Gee, that’s pretty, that’s beautiful, what a nice performance” — while yawning a bit inside, and thinking about tomorrow.

Last night when David sang, we paid attention.  We hung on every word.  We wondered what the next line would be — couldn’t wait to hear it.  And where could he could possibly be going with this story of his?

The best part of all?  When we “got there,” the journey was more than worth it.  Thanks, David.  Like you said, “practice makes progress.”

The Brilliant k.d. lang

The Brilliant k.d. lang

There are more than a few extraordinary voices in the world, and one of them is k. d. lang. She can take any song and make it a prayer, a calling to the heart — heck, a reason to live on a very bad day.  She could sing a nursery rhyme and I’d listen.

k.d. lang

What gives k.d. lang her compelling vocal quality?

She has honest sound, and it is connected to her — entirely.

Every note.

She has unadorned sound.  No vocal shenanigans, so stylizing, no extras.  She just sings and you have to listen with all your heart the moment she opens her mouth.

She has sung with Roy Orbison and Tony Bennett, among many others.

And not surprisingly,  Tony Bennett has very kind things to say about her:

“I can tell if someone has got it, or hasn’t got it, and k.d. has a gift. She’s just a very beautiful, natural singer, and there aren’t many of them around. Every note (of hers) has great feeling and honesty. I can’t ask for a more pleasant thing to listen to than to listen to k.d. sing.”

This is what Leonard Cohen (who wrote “Halleluyah”) and his partner, singer Anjani Thomas had to say about KD’s version of “Halleluyah” sung at Cohen’s induction into the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame:

“After hearing k.d. lang perform that song at the Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame in 2006 we looked at each other and said, ‘Well, I think we can lay that song to rest now! It’s really been done to its ultimate blissful state of perfection.'”

True.  Good thinking.

Here’s the link for the song by k.d. lang “Halleluyah.”  Enjoy.