Laila Biali will be performing at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 23. (Submitted photo)

Laila Biali will be performing at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on Oct. 23. (Submitted photo)

Award-winning jazz artist Laila Biali will perform in Duncan on Oct. 23

Biali is on tour for the first time since the pandemic began

Multi-award-winning singer-songwriter Laila Biali will be back in the Cowichan Valley on Oct. 23 to perform at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre’s cabaret stage.

It will be a night of sophisticated jazz music intertwined with a catchy pop spin with Biali’s bright and vibrant music.

The performance at CPAC, which is sold out, is part of Biali’s first tour since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March, 2020.

Ironically, Biali’s last visit to CPAC was in February, 2020, and just a few weeks after that, she had to cancel the rest of her tour because of the pandemic.

“I really love playing in that theatre [CPAC],” she said.

“I grew up in North Vancouver so I also really relish going back out west to see the trees and the ocean again.”

Biali, who is also a CBC Music national radio host, has headlined festivals and venues spanning five continents, from New York City’s Carnegie Hall to Beijing’s National Centre for the Performing Arts, and supported international icon Sting.

In 2020, Biali was honoured by SOCAN Music with the Hagood Hardy Award for Excellence in Songwriting.

In 2019, Biali’s eponymous release won her a Juno (Canada’s Grammy) for “Vocal Jazz Album of the Year.”

The year prior, she was awarded top prize at the Canadian Songwriting Competition in the Jazz category.

Biali was also the youngest-ever double winner at Canada’s National Jazz Awards when she was named “SOCAN Composer of the Year” and “Keyboardist of the Year.”

She received her first Juno nomination for Tracing Light (2011), and a spot on DownBeat Magazine’s “Best Albums of the Year” for Live in Concert (2013) and Out of Dust (2020).

Biali will sing and play piano and her husband Ben Wittman will be playing drums for her when she performs at CPAC.

Wittman was also the drummer for Canadian fiddler Natalie MacMaster when she had to cancel her performance at CPAC in March, 2020, after the pandemic was declared.

Ken Lister, a jazz bassist who has played, recorded and toured with some of the top musicians in the jazz world, will also join Biali on stage

“My 11-year-old son Josh, who contributed a song on the Out of Dust album, will also be with us on the tour but he’s reluctant to get on stage so we’ll see what happens,” she said.

Biali said she’s excited to visit the Cowichan Valley and Vancouver Island again.

Tickets are still available for Biali’s performance at the Nanaimo Jazz Festival on Oct. 25 at the Port Theatre.

Phil Dwyer, a jazz saxophonist living in Qualicum Beach who was invested into the Order of Canada in 2013 for his contributions to jazz, will join Biali for the Nanaimo show.

“Having Phil with us will add a secret sauce for the performance in Nanaimo,” she said.

Tickets for that show can be bought at https://bit.ly/LBNanaimoJazz21.

“I don’t know what it is about Vancouver Island, but it produces some of the finest musicians, like Phil Dwyer, in the industry,” she said.

“Maybe there’s something in the water and it’s always fun to dip in that pool. I can’t wait to return.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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