Strong Women Strong Music 2016: Karin Plato

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. Let’s start off with Karin herself, she will be one of the featured artists on March 10th @ Frankie’s:


Do you remember a concert that you attended that impacted you in a profound way?
Last year Kate McGarry and Keith Ganz making their Canadian debut here in Vancouver were absolutely awe-inspiring! It took place at St. James Hall and everything about that concert was memorable. It was nuanced and emotional and honest just as their recordings are.

Another recent concert that has “stayed with me” took place last fall in Frankfurt Germany. I got to see the ensemble “Hildegarde Lernt Fliegen” (the name means “Hildegarde learns how to fly”) They’re an award winning ensemble featuring an incredible vocalist/composer (Andreas Schaerer) who is also their leader. They are all fantastic young musicians and genre-wise they cover a wide spectrum: full on funk grooves to theatrical to operatic to rap. I suppose I was impacted by the concert because they were an exciting band to see live thus it was both visually and aurally inspiring. There was a sizzle in the air just sitting in the audience and waiting to see what would happen next. I’ll say that Andreas Schaerer is sort of like Bobby McFerrin on steroids! What a brilliant vocal technician he is. Some of the interplay between voice and the horn players and the rest of the rhythm section was something to behold. This is not a group backing up a vocalist. The vocalist is truly one of the instruments in this ensemble and it was so surprising and satisfying to witness to that kind of ensemble working as a team.

Could you name a music teacher or mentor who has influenced and inspired you?
When I was younger I was lucky to have a great piano teacher where I grew up in Saskatchewan (Donna Thomson) Yes, I was so extremely lucky to have the guidance of a teacher of such a high caliber!

Later in my life vocalist Shannon Gunn inspired my passion for jazz before I really knew what that was. She definitely set me on my way through her encouragement and through her example as a jazz vocalist.

I was also impacted by a few things that Professor Robert Solem said when he was conducting The Greystone Singers (I sang with them while I attended the Univ. of Sask. The concept of “line” in music was something I finally began to understand. He stressed the importance of maintaining the line through phrases & musical passages and to this day I think of him when I am working on that as a performer and as a teacher.

I’ve been influenced and inspired by these great teachers as well: Jay Clayton, Sheila Jordan, Nancy King, Steve Christofferson & Kurt Elling.

Could you name a few artists whose recordings you enjoy listening to?
I do listen to a lot of music from various genres. Perhaps I have my “go to list” of particular artists that I crave listening to on a regular basis in with all the other music. This would include:
• Vocalist Kate McGarry’s rendition of “The Heather On The Hill” from her recording “The Target”.
• There’s a David Grisman/Tony Rice recording called “Tone Poems” that I adore.
• I often listen to Melody Gardot’s “My One And Only Thrill” record.
• I love a recording by pianist Murray Perahia called “Songs Without Words” since his piano playing on some of the Bach and Mendelsohn pieces is exquisite and fills me with emotion each time.
• Bill Evans playing “Some Time Ago”
• Nat King Cole singing and playing anything is always wonderful!
• Richard Bona with his soulful sound captures my heart on “Munia”
• Anna Netrebko singing “Song to the Moon”
• Peter Gabriel singing “The Book Of Love”
• Joni Mitchell singing “Answer Me My Love”
• Norma Winstone singing “Cucurrucucu Paloma”
• Edgar Meyer, Bela Fleck & Mike Marshall playing “Barnyard Disturbance”
• The Wailin’ Jenny’s singing “Oh Swallow”
• Paul Simon singing “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”
• The last one I’ll mention is Karrin Allyson singing Paul Simon’s beautiful song “April Come She Will” This breaks my heart in a good way.

Do you come from a musical family?
I’d have to say not specifically but, both of my sisters took piano lessons while we were young. My youngest sister became quite proficient on the clarinet and the bass clarinet during high school years. Much later in life my sister Heidi (who tragically died in late 2015) taught herself how to play electric bass and also the drums and she became an important part of the garage rock & punk music scene on Vancouver island playing in a band with her husband. My Mom loves Mozart and my Dad loved Johnny Cash and Hank Snow but neither of my parents played any instruments.

Is there a famous musician you admire and if so why?
I admire Sheila Jordan for many reasons. She keeps jazz alive. She tours the world constantly. She is positive and energetic and determined to share her gift, her knowledge and her passion with musicians young and old. She “calls a spade a spade” and she’s not afraid to truly speak her mind regarding things that matter to her personally. She’s also absolutely hip in every way; her fashion sense, her mischievous way of speaking, her wit and her honesty. She’s the Queen of Bebop and such a warm and loving individual.
Sheila is an inspiration in every way!

Do you play any other instruments other than your main instrument?
I play the piano as my main instrument and for about 5 years now I’ve been playing the ukulele as well.

What it is about performing music that you particularly enjoy?
I will admit that until the 1st song is being played/sung I don’t relish the art of performance. Nerves tackle me. Once the music is underway and I hear my fellow musicians and their contributions musically speaking, I feel free and inspired and truly happy in my heart. Then, I can enjoy the performing aspect of the music and (hopefully) deliver that to the audience as well.

Could you name a famous song that you wish you were the composer of?
Of course wordy Karin can’t name just one! From the jazz standards category I love “Autumn Nocturne” by Josef Myrow. It’s perfection lyrically, melodically, harmonically (in my opinion)

Then there’s a favourite classical song by Samuel Barber with lyrics by James Agee called “Sure On This Shining Night” I’ve loved this piece since University days when I first heard it sung. The lyrics:

Sure on this shining night
Of star made shadows round,
Kindness must watch for me
This side the ground.
The late year lies down the north.
All is healed, all is health.
High summer holds the earth.
Hearts all whole.
Sure on this shining night I weep for wonder wand’ring far
Of shadows on the stars.

If you were able to share coffee, conversation and a duet with an influential female musician who would that person be?
I think it would be lovely to sit down with vocalist/composer Jane Siberry. I’ve always admired her song writing, her unique individual choices in pursuing life as an independent creative spirit. I haven’t seen her perform in many years and alas, she’ll be performing on the very night that I am performing as part of Strong Women Strong Music (March 10) so I have to miss her again. She’s a very engaging artist to watch and listen to.

Advice to young aspiring musicians?
Listen and learn and sing and play and keep an open mind. Don’t give up when some of your ideas may fail. Never stop appreciating the power and beauty of music.


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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