Jazz great Sheila Jordan on risks worth taking


You can either listen to Jian's chat with Sheila Jordan by clicking here or on the listen button, or watch it in the window embedded below!

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American jazz and bebop legend Sheila Jordan has had a roller-coaster life, from her poor upbringing to social stigmatization, to performing with some of the most respected names in the jazz world.

At 85, she has more than 20 records to her name, the title of Jazz Master from the National Endowment for the Arts, and continues to perform and teach jazz vocals to young singers

Jordan -- presently in Toronto to perform and to teach -- joins Jian to share her incredible story, including her decision to leave her career in advertising at the age of 58 and focus on music full time. 

"Music, to me, is like food; it's like sleep; it's just become such a part of my life," she said. "If I lost the music, I would be devastated. I would truly be devastated. It would be like losing part of my soul."

Sheila Jordan was stunned by how much Jian knew about her -- but she surprised him with the fact that she's half Canadian! (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)

See Sheila in action

Check out Sheila singing live in this tribute to jazz saxophonist Von Freeman in New York. This is her rendition of Charlie Parker's "Confirmation", which is a regular feature in her repertoire. You can find more performance videos on Sheila's website.

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