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Jani Lauzon

Published November 1, 1996 in Features
Jani Lauzon

Jani Lauzon

Jani Lauzon

As we head into the month of our biggest event, the Women’s Blues Review, we continue with our policy of profiling its performers. We begin in this issue with an update of Jani Lauzon‘s career, continue with excerpts from Robin Banks‘ trip to Memphis, and tell you about Chris Armstrong‘s new CD. The big show is Nov. 30, at Trinity St. Paul’s, and the other singers are Dianne Brooks, Andrea Koziol, Lee Aaron, Georgette Fry & Melanie Jean. The Band Leader is Lily Sazz.

Jani Lauzon has a long history with the Toronto Women’s Blues Revue, one she is very proud of. “It was at the Isabella, at a newsletter meeting, where David Barnard and I were speaking about the need to honour the women in the community and thus the initial idea for the WBR was born. I was on the bill for the first Revue, so this marks an anniversary for me too!”

As a strong supporter of the TBS and a 2-year board member, Lauzon went on to co-organize the event in 88, 89 and again in 92. “Makes for a lot of great stories”, says Lauzon. “Like the time in 88 at the Horseshoe when Jodie Drake was on the bill. She was sitting by the side of the stage sipping her orange juice, waiting to go on. I was concerned about getting her home early, she looked so tired. Really it was just a calm before the storm. We had to help her on the stage, but once she got there she bounced around the stage in her Adidas like she was 17, rocked the house down and stayed until everyone else had gone home. It’s women like Jodie that have helped this event to grow.”

Lauzon herself has grown dramatically over the past few years. In 1994 she released her first album under her own independent label RA Records. “It was a tremendous struggle”, says Lauzon, “However, the process gave me an appreciation for the business aspect of my craft, as well as a belief in myself as an artist.” Not a bad beginning, considering that the album was nominated for a Juno the following year. “The awards were a hoot. I was so proud, even if nobody knew who I was, sitting there in the back of a Honda Civic, in the middle of a long line of limos.” RA Records is currently in pre-production for Lauzon’s second album, with dates set to begin recording in December. “To me this album explores connection. My mom liked Nat King Cole and The Jackson Five. My Dad played a great jazz piano and my Foster parents loved musical theater. I am as much an actress as a musician and am a very spiritual person. Years of vocal training have allowed me the opportunity to float on the technique and FEEL the music. The performance becomes a state of being, which connects with the inexhaustible energy of the Creator. A musical style is developing that comes from all the wonderful, beautiful and different things that I am.” All that she is? She’s a vocalist and musician at night. A record company president by day. A puppeteer on the side, (you might recognize that jazzy voice of Grannie on The Mr. Dress-Up Show) and a Dora Mavor Moore-nominated actress. Her musical influences cross over from Nina Simone and Etta James to Irma Thomas and the Inuit Throat Singers. “Somehow it’s all a part of the same seed of creativity to me. It’s all just a part of the same circle.” And as all things travel in circles, according to Jani, you can catch her as she circles back to the WBR 10 years after it began.

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The Toronto Blues Society acknowledges the annual support of the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Toronto through the Toronto Arts Council and the Department of Canadian Heritage, and project support from FACTOR< and the Government of Canada through the Department of Canadian Heritage (Canada Music Fund) and of Canada’s Private Broadcasters, The Canada Council for the Arts, the SOCAN Foundation, SOCAN, the Ontario Media Development Corporation, and the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.