With roughly 45 songs written for her new album, jazz-pop singer and songwriter Ellen Doty shouldn’t have any trouble selecting songs for her upcoming Shell Theatre performance.
The Calgary-based performer has a show at Fort Saskatchewan’s Shell Theatre on Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. She’ll be performing backed with a full band, including a pianist, drummer, bass player, guitarist and award-winning saxophonist Eli Bennett.
As part of Alberta Culture Days, tickets are by donation.
Doty said her musical roots are firmly planted in jazz, but she also incorporates pop, folk, and soul into her songs.
“I’m going to be playing some of that new material from the album. It is a bit more pop than my first album I’d say, and it includes some of my other influences a little bit more. So there’s some more soul and folk in there,” she said.
Doty decided to fully dedicate herself to her musical pursuits while studying geology at the University of Calgary. She released her first album, Gold, in 2014.
“The whole thing about Gold was that I found my gold in music,” Doty said. “It’s something that was very precious to me, so I gave up a more stable career to do something I love.”
She strives to create accessible music, because sometimes people see jazz as a complicated, pretentious music that isn’t easy to embrace.
“I don’t like to go too crazy, some people are a bit afraid of the word jazz and think it’s very complicated music. But I like to make it something simple that everyone can relate to,” she said.
One of the ways she gets people to relate is by telling universal stories of love, grief and struggle in her songs.
“Lyrically, I still like to tell a story, in any kind of music … The message is simple but it’s something everyone can relate to and I think that’s really important in music,” Doty said.
She said in recent years, she’s been more willing to tackle personal subjects in her songs, such as the loss of a friend.
“I think when I first started, I was a little scared to be so vulnerable in my writing. I just wanted to make something that was fun and catchy … (now) I really try and write about things that are really meaningful to me and messages that I think are important to share,” she said.
Doty will be performing her established songs as well as unreleased pieces featured on her upcoming second album at the Shell Theatre show.
One of her favourite aspects of performing jazz music is she never knows quite what to expect when performing with new bandmates.
“That’s one cool thing with jazz, we can incorporate some improvisation. So we can have a sax solo or a piano solo and have parts where we’re really playing off each other, and reacting as we’re on stage, which makes it really fun for us.”