As promised, jazz singer Emily Braden has returned from the bustle of New York city, if only for a couple of shows.
Braden reunites with Oliver Swain’s Big Machine tonight (July 26) at Upstairs Cabaret. The band also features fiddler Jaron Freeman-Fox and 17-year-old guitarist Quinn Bachand.
It’s a homecoming for Braden, originally from Idaho, who lived here for seven years while doing her undergraduate and graduate studies in Spanish at the University of Victoria. During that time she came into her own as an artist and since relocated to pursue the jazz dream.
“Living between both cities was getting to be a bit much but it feels like home in Victoria. It’s where I became myself as an artist.
“Victoria is such a place for recharging, I’m looking forward to seeing all the friends here and touring some festivals. I love Canada and am looking forward to seeing different places there,” she said.
Singing provides the bulk of Braden’s New York income but she also works with the Washington Heights CORNER Project, (cornerproject.org/connect-2/meet-our-participants), a harm reduction initiative on the streets of New York City. Speaking Spanish is part of the gig and is paramount to her effectiveness, given the large Spanish-speaking population.
“Music in New York is all about the hustle but it’s also such a tough thing in NYC so I’m lucky I’m so passionate about the CORNER Project,” she said.
The 2012 New York City Best of the Best jazz vocalist winner was on Oliver Swain’s 2010 album In a Big Machine, so expect a lot of material from that, she said.
It’s going to be a work in progress as she only arrived a week ago.
Braden’s jazz vocals will be reintegrated as a backup singer to Swain, adding a gospel element to the songs.
“(Swain) and I are musical soulmates. I’m more of a jazz head and he’s into more of a roots and bluegrass scene, but he helped me write my first tune in his atrium. We both like to make music and branch out, it’s going to be fun to figure out how to sing with him (again).”
The group kicked off its upcoming tour in Duncan on Thursday and will hit cities throughout B.C. and Alberta well into August. Braden will return for The Victoria Django Festival on Aug. 9.
by Travis Paterson