Jazz singer excited about show in P.A.

Perry
Perry Bergson
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Sophie Milman brings her jazz show to the E.A. Rawlinson Centre on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. The Russian-born, Israeli-raised Canadian will be making her first visit to Prince Albert for the concert. 

Sophie Milman is quick to diagnose the problem for Canadian music fans.

The Russian-born, Israeli-raised Toronto resident admits that many musicians don’t often play outside the big markets. She has only even played in Saskatoon once.

“Canada is so huge we play the peripheries but the middle of the country doesn’t get addressed,” she says. “It’s a shame because there are a lot of really great audiences and really smart audiences. I’m excited about (the Prince Albert show).

“Music is universal and I think if you’re doing the right thing on stage, you’re connecting. Some people don’t think they like jazz and then they come out to one of your shows and they realize that they actually do.”

The Juno Award winner, who has released four albums and played around the world, performs at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre in Prince Albert on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.

Tickets are $37.80 for adults and $22.05 for students.

Milman is joined on stage by a drummer, a pianist and a bass player.

“We keep it really energetic,” she says of her show. “I like to tell a lot of stories about why I sing the songs I sing and how they connect with my life. I like to give my brilliant musicians a lot of opportunities to shine.

“We’re all young guys, and a gal, and we like to keep it fresh and interesting.”

She has toured across the United States and also played in Japan, Russia and Israel during her meteoric rise to fame in the jazz world.

Her family moved from Russia when she was seven, settling in Israel until their move to Toronto when she was 16.

After embracing Toronto’s rich music scene, she was asked to participate in a local jazz series.

It led to stardom.

By 2004 she had released her debut album and became a sensation in this country, hitting No. 1 on Billboard’s Canadian jazz chart.

In 2007 she released the album Make Someone Happy, which won a 2008 Juno Award for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year and hit No. 3 on the American Billboard jazz chart.

That was followed by Take Love Easy in 2009 — which hit No. 1 in Canada and No. 4 in the U.S. — and her last album, In The Moonlight, a year ago.

She has also released a pair of live albums.

Despite the heavy workload, Milman found time to go back to school to earn her commerce degree at the University of Toronto.

Now 29 and married to a Winnipeg-born lawyer, she’s got a lot on her mind.

“I’m starting to think about family and things like that. I think it’s the time in my life to be doing that. Between the road and that (family) and thinking about future projects, that’s sort of where I am right now.”

She encountered a significant speed bump in 2011 when the self-taught singer strained her vocal cords.

“It was terrifying,” she says. “It was identity shaking, depressing.”

Milman says she’s at least happy that singers like Adele, Keith Urban and John Mayer have gone public with their own vocal cord struggles.

“People seem to be surprised and none of this new,” she says. “Singers have been struggling with their voices since there have been voices to struggle with and singing to be done. Because of the stigma of it, people didn’t really want to talk about it. If you were a huge celebrity, they would send you to ‘rehab.’

“Truly it was better to have a drug problem than to have a vocal cord problem.”

She has now lived in Canada for 14 years. And while her life is a good one, some of the little girl who endured poverty and uncertainty remains.

“Those are the experiences that I have to build on,” she says. “I was the seven-year-old kid who was trying to help her parents and trying not to get in the way and trying to help them build their lives and had to grow up a little quicker than your average kid. I was a lot more aware of what was happening and the struggles that my parents were experiencing.

“By nature I’m a very feeling person so all those feelings sort of built up in me and made me the person that I am today.”

perry.bergson@paherald.sk.ca

Organizations: Prince Albert, Daily Herald, E.A. Rawlinson Centre University of Toronto

Geographic location: Toronto, Canada, Saskatoon United States Russia Israel Japan Winnipeg

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