In partnership with the Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts, JAZZ.FM91 is proud to host the second season of Discover Women in Jazz.
This outreach program promotes, champions and inspires women’s and people of marginalized genders’ contributions to jazz as instrumentalists, writers, vocalists and bandleaders. The program features five women or non-binary jazz musicians from the Greater Toronto Area selected by a distinguished panel that includes Colleen Allen, Céline Peterson, Dione Taylor, Aline Homzy and program alumnus Reknee Harrett.
Through this program, JAZZ.FM91 will offer these talented musicians support, space, funding, audience and marketing to foster their careers.
The concerts in this series will be broadcast live every Thursday from 7 to 8 p.m. ET between Aug. 4 and Sept. 1, 2022.
An exciting addition to this year’s program is the inclusion of Jazzology interviews, sponsored by RBC Emerging Artists. Taking place every Wednesday in August, these unique Jazzology episodes will showcase each participant in conversation with Jazzology host Heather Bambrick in the leadup to their live performance.
Meet the artists
The following are the five exceptional artists selected for the program.
Alexa Belgrave is a pianist, musical director and community member based in Toronto with a bachelor of music in jazz piano from the University of Toronto. With a background in classical studies, an interest in composition and an interactive and rhythmic ‘comping style, Alexa has worked with a variety of musical acts such as TUSH, the Queer Songbook Orchestra, Andrew Downing and Shakura S’Aida, and with theatre companies including the Obsidian Playwright Unit, the Musical Stage Company, Nightwood Theatre and more. In 2019, she was awarded a TD Discovery Series grant for her R&B/jazz collective Moodset. She is currently teaching musical theatre performance at Sheridan College and piano at the Annex Academy of Music and more.
- JAZZ.FM91 presents… Discover Women in Jazz: Alexa Belgrave’s Moodset
- August 25, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
From an early age, Debi Botos has cultivated an interest in Hungarian Gypsy music, from where she was born. Now 26, as a self-taught musician, Debi continues to explore and experiment with the sounds of the legendary Django Reinhardt. Through gigging around the Toronto circuit, playing festivals and concert halls in the U.S. and growing up in a very musical Botos family, she has found a sound that is both modern and an homage to the greats. She studied music at Humber College and has collaborated with some of the contemporary giants of the genre, including Samson Schmitt, Ludovic Beier and Stephane Wrembel.
- JAZZ.FM91 presents… Discover Women in Jazz: Debi Botos
- August 18, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Trumpeter and vocalist Marie Goudy started her professional career at the age of 16. Marie has since played with many notable musicians — including on three Juno-nominated albums — came second in the 2020 Toronto Star Readers’ Choice Awards for Best Local Musician or Band, and formed a quickly rising 12tet that released the album The Bitter Suite, reaching No. 3 on the national jazz charts in 2018.
- JAZZ.FM91 presents… Discover Women in Jazz: Marie Goudy’s Paloma Sky
- August 4, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Ashley Kurkjian is an accredited music therapist, a registered psychotherapist (qualifying) and a freelance musician in Toronto. Ashley currently leads and composes for her seven-piece chamber fusion band Different Era, who released their self-titled EP in October, 2016. Ashley can also be heard performing around the GTA with bands GRACE and Human Magic. Ashley has also had the pleasure of playing the Halifax Jazz Festival with Chelsea McBride’s Socialist Night School, the Beaches International Jazz Festival and more with GRACE and The Achromatics, and the Toronto Undergraduate Jazz Festival and the Korean Harvest Festival with Different Era.
- JAZZ.FM91 presents… Discover Women in Jazz: Ashley Kurkjian
- August 11, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Vocalist and composer Nicky Schrire’s work has been likened to Joni Mitchell and Esperanza Spalding. Since 2012, Nicky has released Freedom Flight (2012), Space & Time (2013) and will be releasing her new album Nowhere Girl this year. “Schrire is, by any standard, a remarkable talent … Her voice is a bell, a curve of pliant sound, a personality, a vessel for great songs.” – Will Layman, PopMatters.
- JAZZ.FM91 presents… Discover Women in Jazz: Nicky Schrire
- September 1, 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Meet the panelists
The following are the five panelists for Discover Women in Jazz:
Colleen Allen is one of Canada’s most in-demand musicians for live concerts and recording sessions. Based in Toronto, the acclaimed and versatile multi-instrumentalist has performed all over Canada, the U.S. and Europe with world-class jazz and pop artists including Molly Johnson, David Clayton-Thomas, Holly Cole, Emilie-Claire Barlow, Rik Emmett, Marc Jordan, Andrew Craig and Jackie Richardson. Known for her warm, authentic tone and soulful style of soloing, she works frequently with Brian Barlow’s Big Band, Cirque du Soleil, is a resident artist at Soulpepper Theatre, and is a member of Manteca, Canada’s premier fusion jazz big band. She has been in the house band of the Toronto Blues Society’s Women’s Blues Revue since its inception in 1986. Colleen’s own recordings as a leader draw from her seasoned experience as a musician performing in a variety of genres and situations. Colleen is a beloved mentor and teacher of music for 15 years now at Humber College and a regular adjudicator/clinician for MusicFest Canada and the TD Jazz Education Program in Picton.
Reknee Harrett is an award-winning Toronto-based bassist, composer, educator and community builder. Combining their passion for free improvisation, folk music and the jazz tradition, Reknee strives to delve deep into eclectic, genre-defying music. Reknee was selected to participate in the TD Jazz Youth Summit (Ottawa Jazz Festival), School for Improvised Music (Brooklyn, N.Y.), the inaugural TD Toronto Jazz Festival Jazz Musician Intensive Ensemble, and Coalition Canada’s Music Monday Anthem. Reknee doubles as an in-demand musician, a student in the master of music: applied music and health program at the University of Toronto, and an Academy of Neurologic Music Therapy student affiliate.
Photo credit: Dennis Miles
Aline Homzy is an award-winning violinist and composer. Originally from Montreal, born to a Québécois mom and an American dad with Eastern-European roots, Aline creates original music that embodies her own unique sound that reflects her culturally diverse background. Now living in Toronto, Aline is in high demand as an improvising violinist (Juno-nominated), composer (recipient of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s Explore the Score), teacher (private, Humber College, University of Toronto and Sistema Toronto) and as a session player around the world. Aline’s most important Toronto-based performances and collaborations have been with David Occhipinti, Amanda Tosoff, Allison Au, Michael Davidson and Andrew Downing. She has performed or recorded with Munir Hossn, Barry Harris, Ben Wendel, Danilo Perez and many more. Aline has played at the Daigu International Jazz Festival in South Korea, the Stockholm International Jazz Festival, the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Before the pandemic, Aline produced a sold-out concert featuring some of the top female improvisers in Toronto and abroad, which won the highest score and was supported by the TD Discovery Series Special Projects. Aline is currently working on releasing a new initiative, providing musicians with meaningful opportunities surrounding communities dictated by electoral boundaries.
Producer and artist representative Céline Peterson has presented concerts and given inspiring speeches all over the globe, including Canada, the United States, Denmark, Barbados, Switzerland and South America. She manages some of the most exciting jazz artists on the scene today, including Juno Award winner Robi Botos, Ellis Marsalis Piano Competition winner Ben Paterson, and Order of Canada member Dave Young. She is a producer of the Kensington Market Jazz Festival, which takes place every September in the heart of downtown Toronto, presenting more than 400 local artists in 24 venues to more than 5,000 patrons. Céline has also worked extensively with Coalition Canada and their Youth4Music initiative as an ambassador. Céline has always been a proud ally to the up-and-coming generations of musicians, and along with her work at the coalition, has done workshops at various schools including Durham College and the Chicago Academy for the Arts.
Music has always been an integral part of Dione Taylor’s life. A pastor’s daughter, she was raised in a family she describes as “really connected to the gift of song.” Ms. Taylor began playing the organ at age four and by ten was the music director and organist at her family church in Regina, Sask. She continued on with her classical studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music for voice and piano and upon graduation from Humber College, Ms. Taylor burst onto the music scene with her Juno-nominated debut album Open Your Eyes. Since then, her career trajectory has been truly remarkable. She has performed for audiences that have included the President of the United States and Queen Elizabeth II and has made a worthy name for herself as one of this country’s most talented singer-songwriters. Taylor was nominated for a Gemini Award for her rendition of Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom, which she performed alongside Oliver Jones at the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame Gala. Taylor is also the recipient of the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award Mentorship Program. Dione’s latest album Spirits in the Water was nominated for a Juno Award.
Photo credit: Crilaphoto
Pat and Tony Adams shared a deep love for each other, and for the arts. They were devoted fans of jazz music, theatre, improvisation and comedy, and had great respect and affection for those who dedicated their lives to pursuing these passions professionally. It’s not surprising then that all three of their children also went on to pursue careers in the arts.
The Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts is a legacy fund that continues Pat and Tony’s tradition of encouraging such artists, giving them the opportunity to develop their skills and share their talents with audiences everywhere.
“I was absolutely delighted to be able to work with JAZZ.FM91 to create a unique opportunity to highlight the incredible talents of women in jazz, who we have yet to discover, and I am thrilled by this year’s recipients,” said Shari Hollett, administrator of the the Pat and Tony Adams Freedom Fund for the Arts.