Mira Black (Tracy Graham)
I value musicians who have dedicated themselves to the craft of music as well as the art of being a whole and open human being, able to share all that with me and my audience.
—Mira Black, Winnipeg singer and composer
Singer and composer Mira Black is back! After spending several years away in places like Chicago, Toronto and Vancouver Island, Winnipeg's exotic purveyor of song has returned and she's musically reinvented herself.
During her recent sojourn in Chicago, Black, who is best known in the city as a jazz singer, embraced a new sound that mixes electronica with her own melodies and stories. Black describes it this way: "Imagine Massive Attack fronted by Barbara Streisand, with Joni Mitchell writing the lyrics," she says. "Then take those three to Cirque du Soleil."
Her soon to be released album Mira, was produced by Chicago House Music legend Vince Lawrence and will come out in the fall.
With all her experience performing in different cities, SCENE wanted to know why Mira Black, who will give a concert Friday, May 25 at the West End Cultural Centre, prefers working with Winnipeg musicians.
Here's what she had to say.
As a vocalist, what do you value most in the musicians you work with?
Just as with friends and lovers, I value a musician who is truly listening. Words are the obvious form of human communication, but of course there are so many levels in the act of communication.
My band can hear the nuances of my performance, intelligently and imaginatively enhance the creation of sound and catch me if I fall!
How do the musicians in Winnipeg compare to those in Chicago and other places where you've worked?
Heart, baby! There is a gentle humility inside a potent quality in Winnipeg musicians that I think is rare in the art world.
I've spent a great deal of time in Chicago, New York, London, India, Toronto and most recently Vancouver Island. Amazing musicians to be sure, though to be honest, I had to really dig. For example, there are live music venues on every street corner in Chi Town and huge concerts every night but the musicians don't know each other like we do here.
What is about Winnipeg musicians that you treasure?
This is my family. Clan. This is the caravan crew I would choose to head into battle with and have done so on my own terrain many times. And there is always a chair pulled up at the dinner table when I come home.
What do you think makes Winnipeg musicians play the way they do?
Winter. Something about spending most of our lives inside with our craft, mixed with that amazing break-out in the summer, creates a kind of grateful discipline and open imagination in a Winnipegger.