Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Article From Focus Magazine

Maureen Washington ~ Photo by Dean Kalyan

Focus Magazine
November 20 & December 11 2014
JAZZ ALIVE!
MAUREEN WASHINGTON & DANIEL COOK
First Metropolitan Church

AS A TEENAGER SINGING with her high school choir like the kids on Glee, Maureen Washington knew that one day she would be a professional singer. She explains, “Music came alive in choir for me. It was like I ate,
dreamed, breathed, everything music.” And, while the dream didn't come to fruition for many years after high school, she admits that
“music was always a part of my soul.”

Ms Washington is now an award-winning jazz and blues artist, though she kind of fell into those genres. She had begun her professional career as a “folky” Tracey Chapman singer/songwriter type. But an opportunity arose to sing jazz, and Washington accepted, albeit with a bit of trepidation: “It was like, ‘ok...?’” She does admit, however, “I fell in love with the genre because it’s so unique, so
melodic. There’s cheekiness. There’s sorrow. There’s all sorts of things that you can tell in the story of the song. There’s so much expression that you can add into the music…I always tell people, ‘I’m not really a singer, I’m a story teller.’”

To tell that story, Washington adopts the persona of the jazz diva, decked out in the
uniform of old Hollywood glamour: a Breakfast at Tiffany’s bouffant, false eyelashes and dramatic makeup, stunning gowns and cocktail dresses, evening gloves, and lots of bling. She confesses, “I love old Hollywood. You look back at pictures, and just the classiness and the elegance and all of that kind of thing.
I absolutely love it!”

And, she has the musical chops to back it all up: abundant stage flair and a luxuriant, powerful, emotive voice that grabs listeners and rules their passions with ease. Washington’s exceptional expressive range actually inspired Minister Allan Saunders of the First Metropolitan Church to develop the Jazz Alive! Concert series. Each themed Wednesday event features a different local musician performing, with readings by Saunders tied in. Themes include: gratitude, journeys, life’s obstacles, and joy. Washington sees it as a chance for people “to stop life and take a moment to reflect.” She also revels in the ambiance. Of her October performance, she says, “There was a really neat atmosphere in the room. You could just feel this real great gentle energy.”

Washington performs with Daniel Cook who co-wrote her album Here We Go Again. Cook is known for his fresh brand of original West Coast roots music, and as a guitarist who blends melody and minimalism into a sweet mix of jazz and country guitar traditions.

Some other upcoming performers during the series include: Karel Roessingh with Aaron Scoones (Nov 6), Kelby MacNayr (Nov 13 & Dec 4 ), and Aidan Miller (Nov 27).

Each evening ends with coffee and fellowship.Wednesday evenings until December 11,
7-8 pm. Admission by donation. 932 Balmoral Rd, 250-388-5188, www.firstmetvictoria.com.


—Lisa Szeker-Madden Focus Magazine 

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