Soul James with Ismaila Alfa (CBC/Thacker)
So I sang some blues and I just never looked back. I started down that path. That's what happens in life. You get pointed in the direction you're meant to go.
—Sol James, singer
Let's get one thing clear right from the start, Sol James is actually Heitha Forsyth. But as she tells Ismaila Alfa on SCENE on Air this weekend, the personas are different, even though the person is the same.
"Sol James is me and I am Heitha Forsyth. I decided to make a moniker when I made this project which is a country/soul type of sound and because it was departing with my original sound which was jazz," she said.
Her involvement with an earlier band got her the nickname Mama Soul and she decided to go with that, plus her dad's name is James, thus Sol James.
She studied music at university with the goal of becoming an orchestral french horn player. "But I always loved to sing and I was discouraged from singing because singing and making a living in music is tough...and I had some big events happen in my life too. When I was in first year university my mom passed away from cancer. I just started looking at things that made me happy, because life is just too short."
It may have been fate that brought Sol James together with Steve and Anna-Lisa Kirby at the University of Manitoba jazz program. "I was waiting for my french horn lesson and the Kirbys were doing a master class. Anna-Lisa pulled me in and said 'I hear you're a singer - you've got to sing for me'. So I sang some blues and I just never looked back. I started down that path. That's what happens in life. You get pointed in the direction you're meant to go."
Sol James will be performing at the Folk Exchange as a solo artist on March 16. Before that, hear her in conversation with CBC host Ismaila Alfa on SCENE On Air on March 9. The show airs every Saturday from 5 - 6 p.m. on CBC Radio One, 89.3 FM/990 AM/97.9 FM in Brandon.