Elizabeth Shepherd was surrounded by music throughout her childhood and she eventually turned that into a career.
With her parents working as ministers, Shepherd grew up attending the Salvation Army and played horn as a member of the churches’ brass band.
“I was exposed to music really early on…my parents were both musical as well as my older brother,” she said. “I was making music a lot.”
When it came time to choose a career path Shepherd was eager to pursue one in music, but her father initially urged her to find another career.
“I think that’s just being a protective parent, I totally understand that now.
“I waited until they moved to France and then I suddenly applied to McGill for music behind their backs,” she recalled.
It didn’t take long for her parents to come around to the idea of her desire for a career as a musician.
Her evolution into a jazz artist actually came via hip hop. Her boyfriend at the time was a hip hop MC and she began to notice some similarities between the two styles.
“Around that time at school I was getting really enchanted with classical music…(but) I started to think that I should do something else and the only other program offered was in jazz.”
Later, Shepherd burst onto the jazz scene when her debut album (2006’s Start to Move) was voted one of the top jazz albums of the year by listeners of the Gilles Peterson show on BBC Radio.
The Montreal native has since released four more albums, and earned a set of Juno nominations while touring across North America, Europe and Japan. The Signal, a concept album, is her latest effort.
Through much of her discography, Shepherd has made good use of her own bilingualism to express herself in both French and English, an aspect of her music that she believes is very important.
“French is a big part of my identity and I feel it’s a big part of the Canadian identity,” she said.
“I feel like it’s really important for me to kind of honour both sides. I feel equally at home in French and English.”
When asked whether she ever had an “I told you so” over her father’s reservations about music, Shepherd was quick to shoot down that notion.
“Being a musician is very hard, and if anything I feel like it’s the opposite…he was right, it is a very difficult (career),” she said. “(My parents) were incredibly supportive. Once they realized I was going to do it regardless, they came to every show when I was starting out and it was like them and three other people in the audience.”
Goldenites will have the chance to check out Shepherd’s jazz stylings on Nov. 21 when she takes to the stage at the Civic Centre. Check out kickinghorseculture.ca for ticketing info.