Biography

Velvety-voiced pianist Elizabeth Shepherd arrived on the international scene in 2006 when her debut album Start To Move was voted one of the top jazz albums of the year by the listeners of the influential Gilles Peterson Show on BBC Radio Worldwide. Since then, the Montreal-based soul-jazz innovator has established herself as one of the most alluring and imaginative artists on the scene today. Versed in equal parts Stevie Wonder, Salvation Army brass bands and classical sonatas, it is perhaps no surprise that this globetrotting talent has developed such a distinct and unique voice.

Elizabeth has been hailed as “a jazz virtuoso blessed with a pop sensibility”, praised by critics worldwide for her arrestingly original writing and soulful delivery. Along with artists like Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Jose James she is seen as part of a wave of jazz musicians bringing the art form to a new generation of music fans.

The four-time JUNO nominee (Canada’s Grammy equivalent) has released four widely acclaimed records and toured extensively in North America, Europe, Japan and Mexico. She has sold out legendary clubs from Tokyo to Detroit, played major festivals like Montreal and North Sea Jazz Festivals, shared the stage with Victor Wooten, Branford Marsalis and Christian McBride, and opened for Jamie Cullum at The Hollywood Bowl. Elizabeth is also the only jazz vocalist to ever have been long listed for the Polaris Prize – Canada’s most prestigious music prize – an honour she has received twice.

Her fifth album The Signal saw Shepherd team up with guitar genius and Herbie Hancock band member Lionel Loueke as she continued to create jazz for a new generation. Released worldwide through Linus Entertainment (eOne), The Signal  received international acclaim, was nominated for  a JUNO Award, and long-listed for the prestigious Polaris Prize.

Her sixth and most recent album, MONTREAL is a multimedia ode to her hometown. Released on Pinwheel Music (2019), the music is based on a series of interviews she carried out with strangers in the street, that are woven into 11 songs relaying a “people’s history” of the city. The songs are accompanied by a series of short films, by Montreal videographer Stéfan Verna, as well as a coffee table book, relaying the uncovered stories as well as the making of the films, which will be available in April, 2020. A bold, innovative and sprawling work, MONTREAL has been met with critical praise.

Praise for MONTREAL (2019):

  •  ”Il s’agit d’un album résolument contemporain, bien ancré dans l’ici et le maintenant d’une chanteuse au sommet de son art.”  ICI Musique
  •  ”L’art de Shepherd est fait de subtilité, de précision, d’exploration: MONTREAL souligne tout ça” Le Devoir
  •  ”Shepherd’s voice imbues with dreamy splendour” The Gazette
  •  ”Smart, progressive lyrics over concise but richly textured compositions that ride contemporary, funky grooves” Ottawa Citizen
  •  ”Chick Corea-like space jazz piano meets French jazz pop intricacies” The Globe and Mail
  •  ”Shepherd sounds entirely on top of her game here, on every level; the resulting work is the best thing she’s ever done.” The Record 

Praise for THE SIGNAL (2014):

Praise for REWIND (2012):

  • “Soulful coolness” USA Today
  • “Ma-gni-fique!” Jazzafip, Radio France
  • “One of the year’s most pleasant surprises” London Evening Standard (UK)
  • “Stunning….original and exciting”  Seattle Post-Intelligencer (US)
  • “Plus intéressante que la presque totalité des chanteuses associées au jazz” La Presse (CAN)
  • “Extraordinary talent” RBB Kulturradio (GER)
  • “A hugely original musical mind at work” Toronto Star (CAN)
  • “A studio marvel by an inventive risk-taker” All About Jazz (US)
  • “Imaginative arrangements with a laid-back hipness” The Irish Times
  • “Bound to intoxicate American jazz fans” LA Jazz (US)
  • “An album for any kind of discerning music fan” CBC Music (CAN)
  • “Displays a profound understanding of the expressive power of the human voice” Helsingborgs Dagblad (SWE)
  • “Completely unique delivery and style” Jazzrytmit (FIN)
  • “Idiosyncratic vocals, intriguing arrangements, and polished keyboard work.” JazzTimes (US)
  • “Sensationally original arrangements…. ravishing album”  Properganda Magazine (UK)
  • “Smartly crafted with genuine staying power”  ICON Magazine (US)
  • “Extraordinary” The Examiner (US)
  • “A pure breath of fresh air from Canada” Ultra Audio (US)
  • “A constantly surprising delight” Blinded by Sound (US)
  • “Shepherd unstandardizes some of the great standards, making them new without violating their integrity.”  International Review of Music (US)
  • “Ample proof of an artist in full flight.”  FFWD Weekly  (CAN)
  • “Quiet souljazz sizzler” Montreal Gazette (CAN)
  • “Draws you in….makes you pay attention” Winnipeg Free Press (CAN)
  • “Terrific stuff” The Jazz Breakfast (UK)
  • “Un disque maîtrisé de bout en bout, plein de maturité et de tendresse”  MUZICZINE
  • “Une chanteuse que j’adore” Alex Dutilh, Open Jazz France Musique
  • “Une artiste à découvrir” Radio Laser 95.9, France
  • “Un chant très souple, aux teintes contemporaines maîtrisées” Le Devoir (CAN)
  • “Insuffle une nouvelle perspective de beauté à ces pièces immortelles” Espace Musique (CAN)
  • “Chatoyante à souhait et gorgée de swing” Le Journal De Montréal (CAN)
  • “Reprend les standards de façon sensuelle et respectueuse […] un répertoire qu’elle livre avec beaucoup d’intimité” Le Soir (BE)
  • “Une voix céleste et une virtuosité pianistique épatante au service d’une musique résolument contemporaine.” Espace Musique (CAN)

 

Discography