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Elizabeth Shepherd

Over 4 acclaimed albums, Elizabeth Shepherd has created a body of work praised around the world for its originality. 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 voice. Along with artists like Esperanza Spalding, Robert Glasper, and Jose James she is part of a wave of jazz musicians – raised on as much hip-hop as bebop – bringing the art form to a new generation of music fans.

Shepherd arrived on the international scene in 2006 when her debut album Start To Move was voted one of the top albums of the year by the listeners of the influential Gilles Peterson Show on BBC Radio. Since then, the Montreal-based songwriter has continued to carve out her own artful, soulful and hip brand of music. Shepherd’s fifth and latest release, The Signal, is her most mature, bold and compelling vision yet. With one track flowing seamlessly into the next, The Signal is a cohesive sonic journey that gradually unveils a very personal feminist manifesto.

“I feel that this album is giving voice to my own strength as a woman”, says Shepherd. “Every song except one is about a woman or written from a female perspective. I believe in the sisterhood and its immense power that has yet to be fully explored. Giving birth to a daughter, I knew I had to step up my game as a woman, of what we can do, of how we can lift each other up, and this record is an extension of that realization”.

As album opener “Willow” sets the record’s nocturnal mood, the dark and dreamy tone is enhanced by the ethereal guitar and vocal contributions of Lionel Loueke (Herbie Hancock, Angelique Kidjo). One of the most celebrated guitarists of his generation; Loueke’s West African inflections are among the undeniable highlights on the record.

As always, Shepherd manages to make her odd-meter grooves feel fluid and funky, while her sensual, breathy voice is as direct and haunting as ever. Warm and fuzzy or cool and sparkling, Shepherd’s electric Rhodes piano anchors the sound of The Signal, and her love of soul, funk, and old-school hip-hop shines through in the beats that propel many of tracks. An adventurous producer, the 3-time JUNO nominee (Canada’s GRAMMY equivalent) successfully incorporates rumbling Moog keyboard, ngoni, steel pans and kalimba as well as a range of samples that include blues legend Lead Belly and Mother Teresa.

Lyrically, the subject matter touches on everything from Monsanto and motherhood to witchcraft and war. Unafraid to tackle difficult issues, Shepherd addresses environmental degradation in India caused by the cotton industry (“BT Cotton”), forced marriages and rape in Africa (“Lion’s Den”), and the murder of young African American Trayvon Martin (“Another Day”).

The new songs were decisively influenced by the birth of Shepherd’s daughter: “Motherhood changes you fundamentally, your perspective on life, the world and your role in it. I now feel there is no other way to create than from a place of absolute sincerity and certainty. We each have a voice, and I finally believe in the uniqueness of my own. If I die tomorrow, I can be proud of leaving this record behind”.

The Signal will be available everywhere good music is sold September 30, 2014. Elizabeth Shepherd will be touring throughout the world in 2014 and 2015.

For publicity inquiries, product request or interview opportunities, please contact David MacMillan at [email protected] 905 681-8160 ext 228.