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Elizabeth Shepherd

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Canadian pianist and singer/songwriter Elizabeth Shepherd has been carving an individual sound and voice by mixing and matching sounds of contemporary jazz, funk, soul, samba, and blues for an ever growing audience. Raised by ministers of the Salvation Army, she was privy to the sounds of an Army brass band as much as contemporary dance and classical musics. Among her biggest jazz influences are Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, Ahmad Jamal, Alice Coltrane, Abdullah Ibrahim, Abbey Lincoln, Sarah Vaughan, and Mark Murphy, among others. Shepherd's formal studies spanned continents from conservatories in Alberta, British Columbia in Canada to France, but she completed a piano degree in music from McGill University in Montreal. Though her initial intention was to pursue a career in music therapy, Shepherd returned to Toronto upon graduation in 2004, working as a waitress in a piano bar before the owner gave her a chance to put aside a drink tray for stage performance. Since then she has played many of Toronto's popular haunts, including the Rex Hotel, the Montreal Bistro, the Supermarket, and the Distillery District. Overseas, Shepherd has appeared at Tokyo's Cotton Club, London's Jazz Cafe, Gilles Peterson's Worldwide show on BBC Radio and Matt Galloway's Here & Now program on CBC Radio. Shepherd received a nomination for a 2006 Juno Award for her first album Start to Move on Do Right records, produced by John Kong, and it was voted the third best vocal jazz album of the year by Peterson. Her follow-up 2007 CD, Besides, was a collection of remixes, a version of the jazz standard "Midnight Sun," and a late-night styled jam on Pierre Leduc's "Soya." Shepherd's third CD, Parkdale, released in 2008, has her delving into songs like Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground," and standards "Con Alma" or "Long As You're Living." Her bandmates include bassist Scott Kemp, drummer Colin Kingsmore, tenor saxophonist Mark Hanslip, trumpeter William Sperandei, percussionist Roman Tome, and the veteran Canadian guitarist Reg Schwager. Shepherd plays the acoustic and Fender Rhodes pianos. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

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