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Sophie Milman: Beauty and the Geek

It’s an unseasonably sweltering autumn afternoon in midtown Toronto, and Sophie Milman, sporting cutoffs and flip-flops, her blonde locks trimmed short, is curled in a café armchair, sipping herbal tea. The 24-year-old, well into her third year as Canada’s hottest young jazz singer (with rapidly escalating popularity in Japan and the United States and across Europe) could easily be mistaken for the most attractive co-ed from the nearby University of Toronto campus. Wait a minute. She actually is the loveliest student at U of T, less than a year away from completing her degree in … Vocal performance? Ethnomusicology? Jazz composition?

Nope. Milman’s discipline of choice is commerce. Yes, she just might be the first chanteuse in jazz history who’ll be able to play a gig, then tally up her own profit-and-loss statement at the end of the night (though Milman’s academic interests lean more toward loftier topics like global money markets and industrial relations). “Being a nerd comes naturally to me,” she shrugs good-naturedly, with just a hint of her Russian-Israeli heritage still evident in her charming voice. “I always study, always read. I’m very analytical, I am totally not what you think of when you think ‘singer’: yoga, flowers in my hair, free spirit; that’s not me. I’m cerebral and logical. If I weren’t a singer, I’d probably be a lawyer or an economist.” When asked about the connection (or lack thereof) between jazz and number crunching, Milman warmly counters, “Well, what about Mick Jagger and the whole dropping out of the London School of Economics thing?”

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