February 14, 2012
This article was the first time I'd ever been interviewed, I was opening the Jazz Festival by default, the Cuban band that was supposed to be opening the festival hadn't made it in time.
Calgary Sun Mike Bell
Originally Published June 22, 2001
Chances are you'll catch Maura Shaftoe with her head down saying a little prayer before her show tonight at the Holiday Inn. It's understandable, really, considering that the local vocalist and her band -- David Grimstead, Greg Booth, Dustin Shaskin and Allistair Elliot -- are the act opening this year's jazz fest. That's a lot of pressure for any performer, let alone one who's just doing it part time. "It is pretty exciting, actually," Shaftoe says. The vocalist, who trained with Vivianne Cardinal at The Banff Centre earned the nod after catching the attention of festival producer Marc Vasey.
Shaftoe has been compared to the grand dames of jazz -- Holiday, Vaughn, Simone -- and possibly that's because she approaches the songs in a manner that emphasizes a strong personal connection with the material.
"I relate to music emotionally ... so vocals for me are really important," she says. "And the lyric is very important. Often when I'm rehearsing I'll read the lyric out to the band so that they have a concept of what I'm trying to get across when I'm singing." As to whether or not tonight's show will open up more doors for Shaftoe and get her to the point where she can pursue her singing full time, remains to be seen. But it is, apparently, an option that she'd very much welcome.
"In a heartbeat," she says with a laugh. And when asked what would get her to that point, Shaftoe pauses for a moment. "A good deal of luck and prayer."