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Strong Women Strong Music 2016: Dawn Aitken

In preparation for the Strong Women Strong Music 2016 Benefit for the Atira Women’s Centre (details below), Karin Plato has been posting profiles of the artists involved with her Platonic Questionnaire – these are too good to simply evaporate on Facebook. Vocalist Dawn Aitken will be one of the featured artists on March 11th @ Frankie’s:

Do you remember a concert that you attended that impacted you in a profound way?
I remember attending a concert at Massey Hall for Nana Mouskouri. My seat was in the rafters, but her voice made it all the way up. It was clear and clean and perfectly in tune. She had wonderful control and she emoted beautifully.

Could you name a music teacher or mentor who has influenced and inspired you?
Elizabeth Benson-Guy, my vocal coach at the Royal Conservatory, Toronto. She smoked like a chimney, even though it was not allowed, and she would blow the smoke out of the window as she finished her cigarette before the lesson began. She was larger than life with a big laugh and a good heart. I loved her passion for performance and her earthy approach to life. She could squeeze the juice out of every note you produced. I learned a lot from Libby and miss her.
Could you name a few artists whose recordings you enjoy listening to? James Taylor, Peggy Lee and Celine Dion are a few of my favourites, but there are many more. I like to listen to a little bit of everything.

Do you come from a musical family?
Both of my parents were wonderful singers.

Is there a famous musician you admire and if so why?
Shirley Eikhard. I love Shirley’s writing, but more than that I admire her as a person. Every year she would step away from music and do something completely different for awhile. Once she took a few months to learn how to speak French, on another break she earned her captain’s license when she learned to sail and on another occassion she decided to learn how to draw. She was always curious and growing and played a number of instruments. I admired her for that.

Do you play any other instruments other than your main instrument?
Sadly, I cannot play an instrument well. My voice is my instrument, although I do turn to the piano to compose a song.

What it is about performing music that you particularly enjoy?
I think the physical aspect of singing is the thing I enjoy the most. The body as instrument. I love the act of singing, but I also love those moments when a singer can connect on an emotional level with their audience. I admire artists who can do this.

Could you name a famous song that you wish you were the composer of?
Too many to mention.

If you were able to share coffee, conversation and a duet with an influential female musician who would that person be? Joni Mitchell or Aretha Franklin.

Advice to young aspiring musicians?
Hold onto your joy and your passion. They will see you through. Don’t be so married to the page that you forget who you are trying to reach. Strive to know yourself, for you are a unique universe unto yourself. Find your own unique voice and tell your story. We are all on a journey, take us on yours.


Help us celebrate 10 years of Strong Women Strong Music!

In celebration of International Women’s Day join us on the 8th, 10th and 11th of March for the 10th annual Strong Women Strong Music concert series, featuring West Coast’s most prominent women jazz musicians singing up support for Enterprising Women Making Art (EWMA), a program of Atira Women’s Resource Society. Revel in the voices and music of these talented artists while investing in the soul and spirit of the Downtown Eastside, where EWMA helps art and empowerment bloom.

One hundred percent of all proceeds will go to EWMA. For more than thirteen years EWMA has provided safe, income-generating opportunities for women in the Downtown Eastside free from exploitation, abuse and other vulnerabilities.

This year we are delighted to be partnering with Vancouver Coastal Jazz. With their support we have been able to extend the concert to three nights and to use their fantastic location Frankie’s Jazz Club, where food will also be available. The Strong Women Strong Music Concerts are part of a month long celebration of women in jazz.

Mar 8 – Jennifer Scott, Laura Crema, Jaclyn Guillou, Jen Hodge, Sharon Minemoto, Karen Graves
Mar 10 – Karin Plato, Kate Hammett-Vaughan, Daphne Roubini, Jillian Lebeck, Geeta Das, Wendy Solloway
Mar 11 – Leora Cashe, Dawn Aitken, Andrea Superstein, Diane Lines, Wendy Solloway, Mili Hong

Location: Frankie’s Jazz Club, 765 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC
Time: 8pm-10pm – Performances start at 8pm.
Tickets: $20

Reservations for Frankie’s:
Admission at the door

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