Strong Women Strong Music 2016: Diane Lines

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. Pianist/Vocalist Diane Lines 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’ve seen so many concerts that affected me profoundly, but I think one of the greatest was Tony Bennett at the Orpheum. He was probably 84 at the time. Several things struck me. First of all his energy, stamina and amazing voice, for which he is so well known, but it was the way every song was its own complete journey; a story that he seemed to be telling just to me. He was using his voice to serve the song and the lyric and it was his way of communicating that seemed so personal – it felt as though there was no time before or after that song, and no one else in the room that he was singing to but me. He was gracious with his band mates too, saying how fortunate he was to “share the stage with.” When they had solos he would step out of the light and watch them with such admiration – it was their moment. Very humble guy. Sometimes music is very insular and the audience is “out there” – but not with him – it felt intimate and inclusive.
Could you name a music teacher or mentor who has influenced and inspired you?
I’d love to tell you it was some seasoned jazz cat – but it was actually the two women who taught me when I was young. One was my elementary school music teacher Laverne G’Froerer. She played multiple instruments and had an amazing voice, she was so wonderfully musical and she encouraged us all to be creative. She never set limits on what we could do. A wonderful pianist, she would improvise baselines with her left hand and I watched her until I figured out how she was translating the chord symbols – great skill to have. She encouraged us to compose songs and she produced an album for us – very ambitious for 10 to 12 year olds in the 70s!! She and I reconnected a few years ago and now she sings in one of the choirs I accompany. She still inspires me.
The other woman was my piano teacher Marjorie Mabie. Wild, eccentric, wonderful woman who taught as much about life as she did about music. She didn’t like the structure of the conservatory method of grades and what not – she would throw everything into the mix, Brubeck, Bach, Debussy, Gershwin, Shostakovitch, Bacharach – she just loved great music – also very encouraging when it came to composition and self-expression. Or… sometimes we would just tap dance instead.
I think the common theme here was the encouragement of self-expression, finding your voice, and not setting limits. I’m so grateful for both to both of them.
Could you name a few artists whose recordings you enjoy listening to?
Around the age of 4 I discovered my folks record collection. I wore out their Nat Cole, Della Reese, Ella Fitzgerald and Mills Brothers albums. All great swing music. In fact, my first memory in life was telling my dad that the Beatles weren’t as good as the Mills Brothers!
Do you come from a musical family?
I was adopted, so I didn’t know how musical my birth family was/is until I connected with them many years later. There’s so much musical talent in my birth family and that was wonderful to discover. Fortunately, although my adopted family wasn’t innately all that musical, they knew I loved music and they encouraged and supported me, so I benefited from ‘nature’ and ‘nurture’!
What is it about performing music that you particularly enjoy?
I love communicating. I love feeling as though I’ve made an audience happy and given them a good experience. I love working with other musicians and being in that state where the whole is so much greater than the sum of the parts. It only works if everyone plays supportively – then its magic, and the audience always feels that when it happens.
If you were able to share coffee, conversation and a duet with an influential female musician who would that person be?
Aside from the great female musicians in Vancouver – my favourite thing to do is to accompany great vocalists – so I would say Nancy Wilson or Dianne Reeves – they are such thoughtful, emotive artists. It would be heaven to support them musically – or just to be in the same room as those voices!!
Advice to young aspiring musicians?
Remember to serve the song, its not just about fast and furious notes and technique, its about groove, emotion and the musical journey. If the whole group is working together in that way, the music will be brilliant. If its just a competition – its boring. And my non-musical advice, would be to study the business side of music. If you choose to make this your career, learn to be a business person too. They taught a course called the Business of Music at Humber, and it was the most valuable course I took there. Music is a great career, but it does require managing yourself as a business. If you do that, you’ll find you’re in the flow for work and gigs, you’ll develop great relationships, and you won’t regret your decision because you’ll be able to support yourself!


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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