Q&A: Laila Biali at JunoFest
Laila Biali has been making waves in the jazz scene for years now, not least of which was winning the CBC Galaxie Prize at the National Jazz Awards in 2003. Now, her latest album, Tracing Light, has been nominated for a Juno. We chatted with her about the nomination, her upcoming performance at JunoFest and what made recording her album so unique.
You will be performing at JunoFest. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
My trio and a special guest — my husband, Ben Wittman, on percussion — will be performing on Friday, March 25 at Hugh's Room, a wonderful venue that welcomes a diversity of musical styles and crowds. Kellylee Evans, a fellow nominee, has expressed her desire to join me for the bill and it's likely there will be an opener for us that night. We're going for a triple threat.
Which artists are you looking forward to meeting at the Junos?
I'm not sure if Daniel Lanois will be there, but I've wanted to meet him for a very long time. It would also be lovely to cross paths with K.D. Lang, since we covered her on Tracing Light.
Have you listened to the albums from the other nominees?
Only bits and pieces thus far. That said, I admire each of the nominated singers and hope to get to their full tracks sooner than later! Thus is the life of a busy mom and touring musician.
Tell us about Tracing Light — how did you find the experience of making that album?
It was utterly unique for two reasons: one, I was four and a half months pregnant at the time, and two, I had just come off the road from Sting's European concerts in Paris and Baden-Baden. The resulting excitement, anticipation and determination were exactly what I needed to press onwards.
What is your favorite song from the album, and why?
That's a tough question. I would probably give you 10 different answers on different days. I most consistently listen to "Let Go" when I revisit the music of the album. That said, "And so it goes" was initially the track I felt to be the most compelling. But then "Where will I be" and "Joy" have also emerged as favourites at one time or another.
Has your outlook on music changed over the last few years? Do you see yourself moving into other styles or genres?
My husband and I are actually co-producing a record that might best be referred to as "alt pop" in terms of its stylistic leanings. It doesn't represent a departure from contemporary jazz, but rather an offering of something new and different — another musical pathway to enjoy, and one that will hopefully bring artistic growth.
JunoFest featuring Laila Biali, Kellylee Evans and the Sojourners, Hugh's Room, March 25