At the 57th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday night was all eyes and ears via the U.S. music industry, and the night belonged to Londoner Sam Smith. But, we want to let you know there’s s another soulful music mover that the larger international music world is noticing! Do you know Diana Panton? CanadianMade Audio interviews, Diana Panton, a superb Canadian jazz vocalist who has quietly become one of the brightest lights on the jazz scene today. Listen here to our interview. Her work has been consistently praised by listeners and music critics alike for her ethereal vocals, exceptional song selection and heartfelt renditions. “Her diaphanous vocal sound never insists and her high speed vibrato is like the beat of a hummingbird’s heart – natural, untainted and pure.” (Lesley Mitchell-Clarke, Wholenote Magazine.
Her keen aesthetic sense has attracted the attention of some of the jazz world’s most respected masters. When Order of Canada and legendary multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson first heard Panton sing at age 19, he recommended she audition for the reputed jazz workshop at the Banff Center for the Arts (Canada). There, she studied under Norma Winstone (and in subsequent visits, Jay Clayton and Sheila Jordan). “When the great singer Sheila Jordan said Diana Panton ‘sounds like the sweetest bird you’ll ever hear’, she helped define some of the ephemeral delicacy that marks Panton as unique.” (Stuart Broomer, Toronto Life).
Before recording her first album, Panton completed an Honours Master’s degree in French literature from McMaster University, and fulfilled a teaching engagement at the University of Paris (France), followed by a position as a French Sessional Lecturer at McMaster University (Canada). She teaches French and Art at Westdale Secondary School in Hamilton, Ontario. (Canada).
Panton started her music career as a member of the Hamilton All Star Jazz Band, until 2002. After hearing her perform with this band, veteran multi-instrumentalist Don Thompson invited her to attend the Banff Centre, where he was a faculty member. This led to Thompson’s collaboration on Panton’s albums, a decade later. When the time finally arrived to go into the studio, national award-winning guitarist Reg Schwager was invited to join Don Thompson for some stellar accompaniment behind Panton’s pure vocals.
The late great Montreal jazz critic Len Dobbin called “…yesterday perhaps” one of the finest debut CDs he had heard in years! It landed Diana on the covers of VIEW and NOW Magazine and the album made NOW’s TOP 10 Discs of the Year. The album was also awarded a Silver Disc Award upon its release in Japan in 2011.
Her impressive catalog of internationally acclaimed albums have garnered numerous honors, including a second Silver Disc Award in Japan, three JUNO nominations, seven Hamilton Music Awards, a host of National Jazz Award nominations, Canadian and American Independent Music Award nominations.
Her sophomore album, “if the moon turns green …” was the first place jury-selection to perform at the Jazz à Juan Revelations where she was voted Première Dauphine by the Juan public. Most recently, she was named one of Canada’s TOP 5 Jazz Vocalists by CBC radio host Tim Tamashiro.
Her second album, If the Moon Turns Green, received a nomination for the Juno Awards of 2009 in the category of Vocal Jazz Album of the Year. Her fourth and fifth albums, To Brazil With Love and Christmas Kiss, were nominated in the same category for the Juno Awards of 2012 and 2013, respectively.
On all six albums, Panton is accompanied by Don Thompson on piano and bass and Reg Schwager on guitar. Thompson also plays vibraphone on Pink, To Brazil With Love, and Christmas Kiss. On Pink and Christmas Kiss, she is also accompanied by Guido Basso on flugelhorn, trumpet and cornet. On To Brazil With Love, she is also accompanied by Maninho Costa on vocals, drums and percussion, Bill McBirnie on flute, Kiki Misumi on cello and Silas Silva on drums and percussion. Harrison Kennedy sings on one track of Christmas Kiss and one on Red.
The version of Pink released in Japan includes one bonus track not found on the Canadian version of this album. In addition to the above albums issued under her name, Panton sings on the 2012 Peter Appleyard album, Sophisticated Ladies.