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Few artists manage to secure a 42-piece string section for their debut recording, but Canadian Matt Dusk is no stranger to big bands. The York University Oscar Peterson scholarship winner released four independent records while simultaneously performing with his own eight-piece outfit, playing nearly 20 shows a month in the clubs of Toronto. Seemingly predestined for a career in classical and opera, Dusk changed his tune at the age of 18 after hearing Tony Bennett and Sarah Vaughan. His newfound passion for vocal music earned him the top spot in 1998's Canadian National Exhibition Rising Star Competition, beating out 654 contestants. He went on to study with John Gittens and Bob Fenton, as well as Peterson, resulting in a B.F.A. in music. He eventually signed to Decca, releasing the album Two Shots, a collection of standards and original compositions, in June 2004. The Christmas-themed Peace on Earth saw release a year later, with Dusk's sophomore studio effort, Back in Town, following in 2006. ~ James Christopher Monger