British Columbia

14-year-old jazz singer scats for Vancouver's homeless youth

Teenager Maya Rae records her debut record Saphire Birds with hopes to raise money for Vancouver Covenant House

Teenager Maya Rae records her debut album Saphire Birds ahead of fundraiser for Vancouver Covenant House

Jazz singer Maya Rae is just 14-years-old, and has recently released her debut jazz album Saphire Birds. (Robert Albanese)

Maya Rae is like most teenagers. She does her homework, goes to band practice, and listens to Christina Aguilera — but her musical tastes dig a lot deeper than Top 40 hits.

"One of my idols is Ella Fitzgerald," she told host Margaret Gallagher on CBC's Hot Air.

Rae's love for the jazz great inspired her to start scatting on her own — and the hobby paid off. The 14-year-old recently signed with Cellar Live records to record her debut jazz album, Saphire Birds.

And now she's using her music to give back to her community by raising money for Vancouver's homeless youth.

Saphire Birds

The grade nine student has never been one to let her age define her. She wrote the title track for Saphire Birds when she was just nine-years-old.

"It's about how much my family means to me, and that love and just experiencing life and childhood and family," she said. "It's a light-hearted and happy song."

Maya Rae's debut album also features jazz renditions of modern pop songs. (Saffron Kelly)

"Saphire Birds" is one of two original tracks on the album. Rae's says her songs are meant to inspire love and confidence in oneself in the age of social media.

"I know for sure when I'm hanging out with my friends, everyone's always on their phones and looking at Instagram and Snapchat and seeing who is hanging out with who ... or looking at pretty pictures of someone and thinking 'I wish that was me.'"

"It's important to love who you are, and just be yourself."

Giving back

Rae launches her album on Feb. 23 at Frankie's Jazz Club. The event is also a benefit for Vancouver's Covenant House — a short-term care facility for homeless and runaway youth.

This isn't the first benefit Rae's been a part of. In 2015, she helped raise over $13,000 for survivors of the Nepal earthquake, and last year she performed in a fundraiser for Syrian refugee families.

"I love that music makes a difference, and I love moving people with my music. I love giving back ... and I think it's great that music can do that for people."

With files from CBC's Hot Air

To listen to the full interview, click on the audio labelled: 14-year-old jazz singer scats for Vancouver's homeless youth