2019 Juno-Award-winning singer-songwriter and pianist, Laila Biali, is set to make her Stratford debut at Avondale United Church July 31 as part of Stratford Summer Music.
Fresh off her 2019 Juno win for vocal jazz album of the year, Canadian singer-songwriter and pianist Laila Biali will make her debut performance in Stratford at the end of the month as part of Stratford Summer Music.
Biali, who is also the host of CBC Music’s Saturday Night Jazz, has headlined festivals and venues spanning five continents, including Carnegie Hall, toured with the likes of Chris Botti, Paula Cole, Suzanne Vega, and Sting, and has won SOCAN Composer of the Year and Keyboardist of the Year along with her recent Juno win for her 2018 self-titled album.
“It’s my first time (in Stratford). My husband (drummer Ben Wittman) has played there a couple times with other artists, and he’ll be with me, but it’s my first time, and my first time visiting,” Biali told the Beacon Herald.
The concert, which will take place at Avondale United Church July 31 starting at 7 p.m., came about thanks to a mutual friend of both Biali and Stratford Summer Music artistic director Mark Fewer.
According to Biali, she had wanted to be a part of Stratford Summer Music for a while, but it wasn’t until Jean McLeod of Toronto and her husband David Stones stepped forward as sponsors for a concert this season that her dream could come to fruition.
“Of course, I’ve heard of (Stratford Summer Music) year after year, and I’ve wanted to go just to go as a listener, as an audience member,” Biali said. “It’s kind of legendary, right? It’s supposed to be incredibly beautiful, the quality of acts they bring in… is just very high. It’s just something that’s been kind of in the works or on my wish list for a long time.”
For her first Stratford concert, Biali said she and her band will perform a mix of original songs from her Juno-Award-wining album as well as her “jazzish” interpretations of classics written by other Canadian songwriters.
“So, songs by Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen. Actually, I heard Ron Sexsmith is friends with Jean and David, so he’s coming as their guest and they’ve asked if I would play an arrangement of one of his songs that I do,” Biali laughed. “I know him casually (from) co-writing something with him a few years ago, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him a close friend, so I’m a little shy to ask (if he’ll join me on stage), but if I can muster my courage between now and the show, who knows, maybe he’d be willing.”
Though she has a recording session in New York booked for the day after her Stratford concert, Biali is looking forward to experiencing, however briefly, what the city has to offer and hopes to return for a longer stay at some point in the future.
For more information on the concert and to find out how to purchase tickets, visit stratfordsummermusic.ca.