Jill Barber’s voice is the sound of the Canadian sensibility

The Artistry of… Jill Barber

The bio on Jill’s website starts with this quote of her musing on great singers and the way music touches: “When I listen to Etta James or Ray Charles or Carole King, I feel almost intoxicated. It stirs something in me. When I write my own music, my greatest hope is that it ends up becoming the perfect soundtrack to some great romance, or at the very least a great cocktail party.”

In essence, that is the soundscape of Jill Barber’s voice — not just the singing voice, but her storytelling in the music she composes. She is comfortable in French and English and her songs express the sentiments and characteristics of the senses of wit, emotion, curiosity, and culture.

The Canadian sensibility is honesty, engaging storytelling, humour, and sentimental irony. You hear it in the music of the country’s best songwriters, composers, and performers — people like Ron Sexsmith, with whom Jill has collaborated, the late Leonard Cohen, the greatness that is Oscar Peterson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and the whimsical directness of k.d. lang, to name just a few. The list is rich in its artistry; it is good company.

Barber is likewise rich with artistry and good company. Such good culture. Canada is a diverse, eclectic, spirited, collected variety that is as broad and demanding as its geography and as embracing as all of its people.


The Artistry of… is a weekly series that reflects on the passion and essence of an artist. It airs Wednesday evenings on Dinner Jazz with John Devenish.


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