We can’t forget jazz

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Maybe Panton is looking to see where she’ll put that JUNO up on her shelf.

Maybe Panton is looking to see where she’ll put that JUNO up on her shelf.

Artist Diana Panton hopes for a JUNO

Article: Destiny Kaus – A&C Writer

When I heard the words “jazz” and “JUNO” mentioned in the same sentence, I nearly jumped off my coffee table and did a back flip because I was so shocked. Really? Jazz is popular enough in Canada to warrant a JUNO award? Apparently! And, apparently I live under a rock for not knowing this. I guess I forgot about Diana Krall and Michael Buble. Whoops.

In fact, Canada’s Canadian Jazz Archive (a project of Jazz.FM 91) lists 694 Canadian jazz musicians on its website canadianjazzarchive.org. Goodness gracious. Hello jazz! Mind = blown. On this extensive list stands the name Diana Panton.

This Hamilton-based jazz musician first became involved with music at the age of 13 when she tried out for a local production of the Sound of Music and landed the lead part.

If I had landed that main role of Maria at 13 years old, I probably would have started singing too.

Panton says, “An opera singer in the crowd sent a dozen roses to my house after the show and recommended I start singing lessons.”

How this opera singer found Panton’s address slightly concerns me. Nevertheless, this experience was exactly what Panton needed to pursue her musical talent.

Once she finally found a classical music teacher three years later, the Hamilton All Star Band (a local jazz band) and the discovery of her dad’s vinyl jazz collection further influenced her passion for jazz.

Panton says, “One night, my dad put on a jazz album by Ella Fitzgerald and I was sold…it was very clear to me from the first time I heard Ella that jazz was the path for me.”

In her early music career, Panton never dreamed of receiving a nomination for the JUNOs. But, as her career progressed, she started to hope.

“Once I started making albums, I hoped that one day they would be recognized on a national level, but I really didn’t know if I had much of a chance as an indie artist. I was pleasantly surprised when I was nominated for my first JUNO.”

Pleasantly surprised? Heck, I would have been ecstatic. In 2009 Panton received her first JUNO nomination for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year with her second album If the Moon Turns Green. Since then, her fourth and fifth albums, To Brazil with Love and Christmas Kiss, were nominated in the same category for the 2012 and 2013 JUNO Awards.

Panton’s new album Red, released in November of 2013, has already been selected in Ottawa as one of the Top 10 Vocal Jazz recordings of the Year, has topped the Vocal Jazz Chart in Taiwan, and will hit music stores in Germany ASAP.

Will this new album claim an award at this year’s upcoming JUNOs? Only time will tell. But, judging by her success and her previous nominations, I would say that winning a JUNO is definitely in the realm of possibility for Panton.

Besides performing in Regina on March 7 at Le Bistro, Panton sees herself recording another two or three albums within the next five years.

“We have a second tour of Asia planned for 2015 and I’m hoping we will soon go back to France,” Panton says. “But, most importantly, I just want to still be making the music that I love.”

Boom. Now that I know how popular jazz is, I might just go have a listen.

Image: Jose Crespo

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