OUR JAZZ VOCAL TEACHERS
Bonnie Brett began her professional musical career as a member of CBC Television's "Hymn Sing Chorus" while she was a student of Music and English Literature at The University of Winnipeg. Soon after her stint with "Hymn Sing" she abandoned her classical music studies in favor of exploring the intricacies of jazz singing. She landed a spot in Ron Paley's big band with whom she served an apprenticeship of two years before moving to Toronto where she met and began performing with The Mark Eisenman Trio.
A decade later, Bonnie Brett is one of Toronto's most respected and beloved jazz vocalists. She has established a reputation for being a singer of great power and finesse who swings hard. Bonnie has headlined many concerts and club venues, most notably The Montreal Bistro, The Top of The Senator and The REX. She has appeared at the Du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival, The Port Hope All Canadian Jazz Festival and the Festival International de Jazz du Montreal.
A diverse artist with many projects to her name, Bonnie has been the featured vocalist with Steve Wallace's Lesterdays as well as having appeared with many other of the best jazz musicians in the country, Guido Basso, Richard Whiteman, Mike Murley and Rob McConnel to name a few. She has also performed with fellow vocalist Melissa Stylianou in their hilarious duet "tour de force" Bosom Buddies.
Karen Burke is a singer, music director, choral conductor and composer in the field of African-American vocal music. As an authority on the history and performance practices of Gospel music, she has worked with major choral ensembles and organizations including the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and Youth Choir, Toronto Choral Society and Ontario Choral Federation, as well as numerous schools and church congregations. In 1988, she co-founded the Juno Award-winning Toronto Mass Choir (TMC) and continues to serve as their principal director, touring nationally and internationally.
A prolific composer and arranger of Gospel repertoire, Professor Burke has written many original songs, including some for TMC’s new CD, The Live Experience, released in November 2005. Her work on the concert stage and in the recording studio includes collaborations with such leading lights as Alvin Slaughter, Jean Ashworth Bartle and Jackie Richardson. For 12 years, she performed and recorded with her own group, the Gospel quartet Sweet Sound.
Professor Burke is the director of the York University Gospel Choir. She joined the faculty in York’s Music Department in 2005.
Rita di Ghent is a Toronto-based jazz vocalist-composer, born in Hamilton, Ontario and raised in Chicago. Since 1990, Rita has enjoyed a professional career as a bandleader, vocalist, composer and teacher. She made her New York performance debut in 1993 as a special guest with Verve recording artist Mark Ledford; her debut CD was released in 1995. Her new release "The Birth of Sprawl" was produced by Nick Blagona (Dizzy Gillespie, Count Basie, Tony Bennett, Cleo Laine, and others.)
Rita has studied with many great musicians at several highly distinguished institutions and holds Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Arts degrees. She currently teaches singing in the Jazz Department at York University in Toronto. She regularly produces and performs in large-scale shows. Some of her recent productions include "Two Generations of Jazz", a double-bill with jazz legend Sheila Jordan, "The Great Jazz Piano and Voice Series", and "The Canadian Independent Jazz Vocal Artists (CIJVA) Showcase". In the summer of 1998 Rita toured with the self-written and self-produced show "Great Ladies of Jazz: the lives and music of Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day, Peggy Lee, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Carmen Mcrae and Annie Ross". Her Sprawl project is being presented at major Canadian jazz festivals coast to coast in June and July of 1999.
Lynn McDonald has a world of experience in her bag of tricks. Songwriting partner for years with such names as Doug Riley and Bernie Senensky,degrees in Honours English, Psychology and Scriptwriting, years spent in a gospel choir with such names as Liberty Silver, Jackie Richardson and Wayne St. John. Because she had already established herself as a bandleader it was necessary to return to U of Toronto to study music under Paul Read and Phil Nimmons.Between the eighties and now she has performed in clubs and festivals in Canada, USA, Prague and beyond.
Lynn has seven CDs to her credit, the last one Live at The Top of the
Because Lynn operated a jazz club called Amis Du Jazz for 8 years, she is well acquainted with the Canadian jazz scene, having featured over a thousandtalented players and vocalists at Amis Du Jazz in the weekly concert series.
These days Lynn enjoys passing her knowledge on to students at York University as well as privately. Lynn's students have continued to record and pursue a musician's life.
The most fun and exotic hat she wears as a lover and promoter of the Arts is that of Tour Leadder for Music and Culture Tours for Pauwels travel. She has her own band in Prague, Czech Republic and will be singing in the Havana Jazz Plaza this December!!
Music is not only a vehicle of expression for singer/songwriter Sacha Williamson; it is a way of life. From an early age, Sacha spent hours creating, learning, and expanding her musical instrument. Today, Sacha continues to do just that. An alumni and now educator of Jazz vocal music at Toronto’s York University, Sacha has created a space to constantly challenge herself musically while inspiring other vocalists to develop and challenge their own voice.
Inspired by such legends as Nina Simone, Betty Carter, Andy Bey, Doug and Jean Carne and Chaka Khan, Sacha stays true to her roots and belief in bringing the soul back into jazz. Sacha’s passion for jazz as well as other music from the African diaspora is what influences her distinct sound which can be heard in her live performance and recordings. For Sacha, the stage is her canvas for which to paint her pure soul expression.
From performing at intimate jazz settings to large audiences, Sacha is no stranger to the stage. She has performed at Toronto’s famed Hummingbird Centre, Revival, Lula Lounge, The Mod Club, El Mocambo, N’awlins jazz bar, Old Bamboo, Rivoli, The Supermarket, The Guvernment, and at soul, latin, and Indigenous music festivals held at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Sacha has also recorded for and worked with Trinidad’s Calypso veteran David Rudder and record labels such as NRK (UK), V2, and Virgin Records. Currently, Sacha is completing her debut solo album and collaborating on various recording projects internationally and in Toronto, including a jazz release with Do Right Music slated for March 2007.
With a lifetime of music within her spirit, Sacha is intent on being around for a long time. She persists to bridge the gap between genres, defying musical boundaries to obey the truth of her soul. To listen to this melodic storyteller is to embark on a diasporic journey of the rich and powerful voice of Sacha Williamson.