Vancouver Island MusicFest has added two more world class performers to an already unrivaled 2011 performer roster – Multi Juno Award Winner Holly Cole and Critically Acclaimed Reggae-Blues Artist Corey Harris!
Cole takes tunes everybody thinks they know and discovers new undercurrents in the venerable anthems of contemporary composers, wrapping her honesty, compassion and sardonic wit around their sometimes-fragile creations. The results are sexy, provocative, spellbinding, sometimes dangerous-and never, ever dull.
Jazz is her bedrock, but not exclusively. Her smoky voice is sultry, yet she’s ironically humorous and candid while reshaping both traditional standards and pop classics.
Cole has made a name for herself as one of the most inspired and inspiring contemporary interpreters of popular song for close to twenty years. There is an intelligence and sophistication to Holly Cole’s singing that sets her apart. She can imbue well-worn standards and eclectic songs with an uncanny combination of sensuality, innocence, originality and sheer musicality.
Born and raised in the Maritimes, Cole grew up surrounded by music; her parents are classical players, her brother is a composer and jazz artist, her uncle sang and acted on Broadway and her grandfather played C & W accordion. In her youth she listened to everything from Broadway Musicals, Country and Western and Classical to sixties rock and the pop of her generation. In her mid-teens she discovered Nina Simone, Sonny Rollins and Betty Carter and for a long time listened exclusively to jazz. “Jazz is a big influence on my sound but ultimately it’s a fusion of many styles”.
More than just a blues musician, Corey Harris is a seeker. This guitarist-vocalist-songwriter has dug for the deepest and truest essence of the blues, reggae, gospel, funk, R&B and other roots music by examining and celebrating their origins in various and diverse cultural centers in Africa, the Caribbean, North America and beyond.
Corey sipped Lightning Sam Hopkins from his mama’s cup back in his native Denver and after graduating from the University of Maine with a degree in anthropology he lived the life of the modern hobo, traveling as far as Cameroon in Africa, teaching French in Louisiana and busking in New Orleans.
His belt-sander voice and remarkable guitar playing abilities came to the notice of Alligator Records who have released a trio of albums, the most acclaimed being ‘Greens from the Gardens’. “You take a little kale and some turnips and some mustard greens, some spinach and boil them all together,” explains Harris. Confused? Well…for kale read New Orleans Jazz, for turnips read reggae, for mustard greens read funk and for spinach reach juju, or rockabilly, or mambo or the blues and you should get a notion of what the man is on about.
It’s a musical concoction that has charmed the likes of Natalie Merchant, Billy Bragg, B. B. King, Taj Mahal and Lucinda Williams into hitching the talents of Corey Harris to their own considerable wagons. Harris also contributed several lyrics to Bragg’s acclaimed Woody Guthrie tribute ‘Mermaid Avenue’.
“There’s blues in me but I’m not a bluesman. I just live to be a songwriter”, says Harris. Winner of the blues music ‘Oscar’, the WC Handy Award, in 1997, Corey Harris is the bane of the ‘pure blues’ nerd and the darling of anyone who appreciates genuine soul, innovation, slide guitar work and….of course….the blues.
In 2007, he was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship – commonly referred to as a “genius award” . This annual award, which recognizes individuals from a wide range of disciplines who show creativity, originality and commitment to continued innovative work, described Harris as an artist who “forges an adventurous path marked by deliberate eclecticism.” That same year, he was also awarded an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Bates College, in Lewiston, Maine.
Harris’s approach to song craft is nothing less than a way of life. “A lot of the walls that we put up between one another–we’re conditioned to do that,” he says. “It’s in the media and in our education for us to look at all the differences and then conclude that there are these huge walls between us. But I really feel that as humans we all have one soul. We got one heart. We got one blood. As the world’s getting smaller, we’ve really got to learn about each other, and part of that is knowing where you’re coming form. So I think that by trying to figure out what’s inside of me musically and the heritage that I’ve got, that I can better live with others.”
From the blueprint of the blues, Harris has made a world big enough for his own huge imagination, and also for all of us.
These performers join the likes of Randy Newman, David Crosby, John Jorgenson and Albert Lee, Jon Anderson (The Voice of Yes), Arrested Development and many many more for 3 days and nights of unbelievable fun! Make your 2011 festival experience 4 days long with the exclusive Thursday Night Concert event with 26 time Grammy Award Winner Alison Krauss and Union Station. Tickets for the Thursday Concert are only $50 with the purchase of a weekend pass. Early Bird Tickets are on sale till June 30th but don’t wait and risk missing out on the 17th anniversary of Vancouver Island MusicFest – pick up your tickets today! For all the details check out www.islandmusicfest.com