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Karen Young Receives the Oscar Peterson Award

Jazzed Magazine • News • July 29, 2016

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karenyoungSinger, composer and guitarist Karen Young is the winner of the 2016 Oscar Peterson Award, presented by the Festival International de Jazz de Montréal. 

Karen Young is the 28th artist to receive the Oscar Peterson Award. The prize was created on the 10th anniversary of the Festival in 1989 to salute a Canadian musician who has made outstanding contributions to jazz in this country and for the quality of his art.

Singer, composer and guitarist Karen Young has embraced all possible styles, languages and eras in her art. Her powerful voice is perfect for jazz, and lends itself equally well to soul music, rock, folk and world music, spanning the sounds of past centuries and the modern day alike. Karen Young grew up in Hudson, Québec, launching herself in the’70s as a vocalist in astonishing Montreal group The Bug Alley Band, named Jazz Vocal Group of the Year by Downbeat, in 1980. In the ’80s and ’90s, she and double bassist Michel Donato created a number of projects, with the renowned duo winning a 1988 Félix award and a JUNO nomination for Jazz Album of the Year, Contredanse. In 2000, she unveiled her magnificent Middle Eastern-flavoured medieval opera, Canticum Canticorum. It’s also worth noting that in 2003, between record releases, the committed pacifist was appropriately awarded Artist for Peace. In 2008, she won the Félix for Best Classic Vocal Album for Âme, corps et désir and the following year, she and sidekick Éric Auclair launched Électro-Beatniks, an album crossing jazz with spoken word. However, 2015 would witness the most ambitious project of her career, the album Missa Campanula, a polychoral mass in Latin sung a cappella and dedicated to her late mother, Lorna Bell Chadwick, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease. The mass was performed at the 2013 Festival de Musique sacrée de Québec and was recorded with 26 vocalists in 2015. Karen Young has also been part of a number of groups, including a jazz trio with Normand Guilbeault and Sylvain Provost, a classical trio with Josée Lalonde and Vladimir Sidorov and a folk trio with Norman Lachapelle and Paul Boudreau. Through 10 albums and a multitude of myriad collaborations, this musician has amazed her audience with her intuition and musical alchemy, sweeping listeners into the wonder of her timeless, diverse and daring oeuvre.

As recipient of the Oscar Peterson Award, Karen Young follows in the footsteps of Jim Galloway (2015), Ron Di Lauro (2014), Alain Caron (2013), Peter Appleyard (2012), Jean-Pierre Zanella (2011), Don Thompson (2010), Susie Arioli (2009), Dave Young (2008), François Bourassa (2007), Yannick Rieu (2006), Bernard Primeau (2005), Diana Krall (2004), Kenny Wheeler (2003), Lorraine Desmarais (2002), Moe Kofman (2001), Charles Biddle (2000), Maynard Ferguson (1999), Guy Nadon (1998), Rob McConnell (1997), Nelson Symonds (1996), Michel Donato (1995), Paul Bley (1994), Fraser MacPherson (1993), Vic Vogel (1992), UZEB (1991), Oliver Jones (1990) and, of course, Oscar Peterson (1989).

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