Helen White, Ismaila Alfa (CBC/Lazowski)
Nobody knew me so I had to hustle to get gigs and I played pretty much everywhere and I still do.
—Helen White, singer
From Cambridge, England to Winnipeg, Manitoba is not a commonly travelled route. Singer Helen White came to the University of Manitoba for her masters degree in music, and eight years and three children later, White and her husband call Winnipeg home.
White admits it wasn't easy at first. "Nobody knew me so I had to hustle to get gigs and I played pretty much everywhere and I still do...I recorded a couple of albums. I have one of originals, and a new one."
White joined SCENE on Air host Ismaila Alfa to talk about her new album What the Hellsy. She says it was about five years ago that she was invited to sing at the Winnipeg Jazz Festival and she's been there every year since.
Steve and Anna-Lisa Kirby also bring dynamic energy to Winnipeg's jazz scene.
But White is not just a jazz singer. "I kind of have a split personality," she explains. "I do a lot of jazz. I now play piano and I do jazz in bars, restaurants, clubs, weddings, corporate events, that kind of thing. And then my other side is my songwriter's side which I feature on this new album and it's not really that jazzy. It's more pop."
White credits husband Duncan White for helping make it possible for her to keep up a performing career. "I couldn't do any of this without him. He's the one who stays home night after night, looking after the kids, and gets to hear about my shows - doesn't get to come to them. He's the one who said I should be doing jazz and I said 'ya ya whatever'. And then I did. I got a taste for it and I got hooked and it was his keen ear that had heard that. He is the inspiration behind it all."
The Jazz Winnipeg Festival runs until June 23. Hear Helen White and friends on Friday June 21 at noon at the Jazz for Lunch series. Before then, catch her on SCENE on Air with host Ismaila Alfa on Saturday June 15. The show airs every Saturday from 5 - 6 p.m. on CBC Radio One, 89.3 FM/990 AM/97.9 FM in Brandon.