Songstress opening for American jazz artist

 Photo by Brendan Klem

Photo by Brendan Klem

Wednesday Feb 17, 2016 by Tammie Rollie Okotoks Western Wheel

A pop-jazz songstress who got her start in Okotoks can be a tough act to follow, but she has her work cut out for her opening for 2015 international jazz artist of the year Gregory Porter.

Singer/songwriter Ellen Doty, who now calls Calgary home, is off to the Jack Singer Concert Hall in Calgary Feb. 19 to open for the American jazz singer, who was named the JazzFM International Jazz Artist of the Year and whose album Liquid Spirit won a Grammy for best vocal jazz album in 2014.

This weekend’s concert will be the first time Doty meets the soulful singer in the flat cap.

“He’s a wonderful jazz artist,” she said. “I’ve been following him for quite a few years. I love his voice – it’s just silky smooth, just a gorgeous voice.”

Doty was asked to do the honours a year ago after performing in the concert hall lobby for American jazz singer/songwriter John Pizzarelli’s performance.

“I’m so excited about it,” said Doty of this weekend’s show. “I’m really honoured just to be a part of it and to get to share my music with such a big audience. It think it’s going to be really special.”

The young singer/songwriter will be joined by Josh Crowhurst on guitar and Nate Waters on saxophone as they perform favourites from Doty’s album Gold, her 2015 single Just So You Know, a new song for her upcoming album to be released this fall and jazz standard I’ve Got You Under My Skin by Cole Porter.

“These are ones that we really connect with emotionally and that will really help us connect with the audience,” said Doty of the songs she, Crowhurst and Waters selected.

While Doty has never met Gregory Porter, she said they have something in common – their ability to mix different genres to create their own unique sounds.

“He has a really interesting style with a lot of different influences like rhythm and blues, soul and gospel in one,” she said. “I love that he incorporates different styles into the music so it’s not just pure jazz sounds, it’s a mix of so many things.”

Similarly, Doty combines jazz with folk and pop to create her own sound.

Doty’s love of music began at an early age.

Former classmates may remember her playing the piano and singing Elton John’s Can You Feel the Love Tonight for her Grade 1 talent show at Good Shepherd School and singing O Canada at Holy Trinity Academy.

Along with performing in school and in church choirs, the songstress also performed at the Youth Talent Showdown at the Calgary Stampede.

Doty graduated from Holy Trinity Academy in 2006 and headed to Ottawa to study vocal jazz at Carleton University in Ottawa.

She returned to Calgary a year later requiring surgery. As much as she loved the music program she decided she needed a backup plan and enrolled in a geology course at the University of Calgary.

After three years in the course, Doty chose to take time off from her studies and take another shot at a music career and has been gaining momentum ever since.

This winter she is performing at venues across Alberta and British Columbia, and in her spare time working on her second album which she will record this spring in Toronto.

“I’ve been writing and collaborating with a lot of different writers in LA and Toronto,” she said. “I’ll be back on a big tour when the album comes out this fall.”

To learn more about Ellen Doty go to www.ellendoty.com