Although Adi Braun has been active on the Canadian jazz scene since the mid-'90s, the Toronto-based jazz/cabaret vocalist was actually born and raised in Germany. Braun, in fact, sings with a slight German accent, but slight is definitely the operative word because her English is quite understandable. Like Jeanette Lindström in Sweden and Soesja Citroen and Fay Claassen in Holland, Braun is a good example of a jazz-friendly singer who has no problem singing convincingly in English even though she grew up in a country where it isn't the primary language. If anything, Braun's slight accent has been a plus because it adds character to her warm, intimate performances.
Born Adreana Braun, the singer comes from a very musical family -- one that is well-respected in European classical and opera circles. Both of her parents were professional singers (including her late father, Victor Braun), and opera has been the focus of her brother Russell Braun (who is also a singer). Adi Braun, who was 18 when she made her first recordings in Germany, is classically trained herself and has an impressive resumé as a professional opera/classical vocalist. In fact, she has brought her Euro-classical and opera skills to various productions for the Canadian Opera Company and the Toronto Operetta Theater. But instead of focusing on classical and opera singing exclusively, Braun has opted to explore jazz, cabaret, and torch singing. Although very jazz-friendly, Braun isn't a jazz snob or a jazz purist any more than she is a classical snob; her taste in music ranges from Edith Piaf, Frank Sinatra, Kurt Weill, and Tin Pan Alley to jazz/R&B singer Dee Dee Bridgewater. While there are traces of Ella Fitzgerald, Julie London, and Billie Holiday in Braun's singing, three of the people she has cited as strong influences -- Judy Garland, Barbra Streisand, and Lotte Lenya -- are identified with traditional pop, Broadway, or cabaret, not straight-ahead jazz. In various interviews with the Canadian media, Braun has been very up-front about the fact that she doesn't consider herself a jazz purist and has a broader definition of jazz than a purist would have. After leaving Europe and moving to Canada, Braun attended the University of Toronto and obtained a degree in music. She went on to become increasingly active on the Toronto jazz scene, where she has often been accompanied by the trio of pianist Ron Davis. In the early 2000s, Braun co-founded Blue Rider Records with two other Toronto residents, pianist Linda Ippolito and composer Brian McDonagh; the label planned to focus on jazz as well as cabaret, traditional pop, and classical. In 2002, Braun co-produced her first Blue Rider release, Delishious, with acoustic pianist Doug Riley. ~ Alex Henderson