Selena Evangline Time is On Her Side

Selena Evangline Photo Credit Bill King.jpg

Submitted by Bill King

I often wonder what the outcome would be if one of our local singing icons were given the treatment lesser deserving receive on reality shows like the Voice. You imagine how a Shakura S’Aida, Divine Brown, Alanna Bridgewater would captivate and own the territory - the orbit being visibility and a worldwide hearing.

These competitions are often about what is referred to the, ‘money notes’ - a blistering succession of tones that peak somewhere near the top of a combatant’s vocal range and strike an emotional chord with an audience. Most times amateurs meander in the lower regions and are judged on a few artificial embellishments.

Selena Evangeline is empowered with a voice that resides somewhere between the practiced artistry of Dinah Washington, Whitney Houston, Gladys Knight and Jennifer Hudson. The low notes carry as much soulful grit and charm as the elevated songbird region most promising sopranos would barter with the devil for.

At an age when musicians begin to question the commitment, long hours, the grind, and disappointments;  Evangeline is beginning to see performance daylight and gathering steam much to do with fellow friends like Shakura S’Aida, who has campaigned in behalf of the talented woman a decade or so her junior. The praise and call to attention is more than well-deserved; it’s the right thing to do. No one this gifted, accomplished and passionate should be denied centre stage.

“I was born in Vancouver, B.C. but only lived there on and off for maybe 4 or 5 years.  Other than that, I've been a Toronto girl for most of my life.

“My first instrument was definitely voice.  I started singing before I could speak (it all began with my singing Barry White and Dan Hill's "Sometimes When We Touch").  Outside of singing; technically -  my first instrument was recorder in grade 4 (jammin' out "Hot Cross Buns") - which led me to taking up clarinet in grade seven which turned into sax in high school (Etobicoke School of the Arts) where I learned more about theory and writing music.

Now, it's more about evoking some sort of emotion from the audience whether its nostalgia, enjoyment, tears, or just making people want to dance.”

Often we don’t choose who to emulate or follow – it’s something that happens organically – a calling.

“Whitney Houston was a big influence for me vocally.  Later on, I really developed an appreciation for Prince, Oleta Adams, Kim Burrell, Bonnie Raitt, Sting...the list keeps growing.  I know that they're all very different stylistically but what they all have in common and what inspires me most is that they are the "whole package" unto themselves - writers, musicians and performers.”

“I've always been surrounded by different styles of music growing up, (smooth jazz) instrumentals, R&B, Motown, Pop, and Rock.  In high school, I was surrounded by musical theatre and classical.  Then I started to really appreciate jazz and Latin music through college and my travels.  After that came guitar and I started to listen to it all over again but with a different ear.  For me, being multi-faceted comes from my fascination with all that is out there musically and wanting to do it all.”

Recently, Evangeline emerged with a duet catching the attention of CBC Radio, Jazz.FM91.1 and beyond - a song written and originally performed by Lizz Wright – “Salt,” a bluesy ballad sung with The Nylons’ Gavin Hope. The chemistry between the two is classic – notes that soar and weave in and out much like an exchange between to compatible jazz musicians trading fierce solos. Instead of battling, the two sing in counterpoint to one another lifting the four minute conversation to grand heights – much like a Sunday morning church testimonial.

“I've been on the stage at Massey Hall a couple of times before as a supporting cast member in Classic Albums Live.  But to be part of the Women's Blues Revue as myself is incredible.  It's such a huge honour that I'm still trying to wrap my head around.  What I think is also surreal is that I'll be singing and playing a B.B. King classic and he will have been on this very stage only weeks before.  I don't know how it gets much better than that.”

At her side, the guitar – not a prop but an instrument key to her comfort and artistry. The lines flow like sweet B.B. King and rhythm like Prince had tapped her on the shoulder and said – just go for it – you are in my pocket.

The past summer Evangeline performed with the Rhythm Express – those King guys - Jesse and Bill – bass and keyboards, Everton ’Pablo’ Paul drums, Stacey Kay and Gavin Hope vocals, Papiosco percussion, Christopher Butcher trombone, and Bobby Hsu alto sax. The arrangement has worked so well - a first single has emerged with Evangeline at the core with her soul-wrenching vocal and agitating guitar; ‘Black Woman’on 7 Arts.

Look for her at the Women’s Blues Revue:
www.torontobluessociety.com/2013/07/27th-womens-blues-revue
and visit www.selenaevangeline.com