Rita Chiarelli, Sweet Loretta at Opera House this Friday

April 21, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Orangeville is in for a treat this weekend.

Juno award winner Rita Chiarelli, known as Canada’s Blues Queen, is coming to the Opera House.  She will stage a fantastic R & B concert with her Sweet Loretta, an all female band tomorrow, Friday, April 22.

Not just for Blues fans, she assured us in a telephone interview earlier this week, “…this is great music – country blues.”

With nine top selling CD’s, a Juno Award and four Juno nominations, along with an impressive line up of other awards, most recently the Maple Blues ‘Blues with a Feeling Award’ for Lifetime Achievement over the span of her career to her credit, Ms. Chiarelli promises you, the Orangeville audience,  a night of rocking music that will have you dancing in the aisles.

Born in Hamilton of Italian parents, Ms. Chiarelli told us that she could always sing: “ was something I was born with. In Hamilton, we could pick up radio stations from the US. That’s why I first heard Blues – people expressing their feelings this way – so real – I loved the freedom of how they expressed themselves musically and lyrically.”

She started emulating them, learning from the great Blues singers of the South. She told us, “I started singing at parties when I was 11 or 12 years old. I had a part time band by the time I was in grade 9.”

At 17, after high school, she was touring with a band.

“I loved the life,” she commented, “performing, singing – I loved expressing myself that way.

“I love the melodic. My parents were Italian and the Neapolitan music was close to the Blues with that real feeling in the lyrics. So, [after some years] I recorded an album, Cuore (heart) of all traditional Italian folk songs. I won the World music category at the Canadian Folk Music Awards for it.”

She has a passion for new projects and, later, went on to make a record as a collaboration with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.

Her production of the documentary, Music from the Big House, about Angola Prison in Louisiana is a source of real pride for her because in the course of making it, as she told us, “I wound up performing with some of the musical inmates. And we recorded it all.” It happened at all because, “I was driving [in Louisiana] and I called up the prison to ask to visit it.”

The documentary film premiered in New York and L.A. “I toured with that documentary all over America and Europe,” she said. “We still screen it for a society called The Bridge.  We did 27 states with it. It was a huge project. It took many years.”

Her current project is touring with the fabulous all female band, Sweet Loretta. “They’ve played together in different configurations,” Ms. Chiarelli explained. In bringing these musicians to play as a band for her, “this name, Sweet Loretta was just something I thought of along the way – I kept it in my back pocket until now.”

There are seven members of Sweet Loretta and they are each a force in the music and blues world in their own rights. Currently performing with other bands as well, they all have remarkable resumes.

Saxophonist, Carrie Chesnutt, has performed with many well known stars. In addition to Ms. Chiarelli, she has performed with, in part, Paul Butterfield, Mary  Wilson and Jackie Richardson.

Morgan Doctor has been playing the drums since she was 10 years old and has actually performed a thousand dates across  North America and Europe. A enormous tally of famous venues and people, award nominations and work on television and film are all part her wonderful career. As a strong advocate of music education, she also teaches at Girls’ Rock Camp Toronto.

Rebecca Hennessy on trumpet enjoys many genres of music while her emphasis is on jazz. Coming to Toronto from Nanaimo, B.C., she has toured here in the North and Central Americas and Europe. Among the notables with whom she has performed are Ron Sexsmith, Broken Social Scene and Feist.

Carlie Howell playing the Bass, is a multi-instrumentalist who has her project too: Carlie Howell and DeHarms, a folk jazz troupe. In addition to others, she plays with Brazilian psychedelic band Os Tropies and Amy Campbell and the Road Less Travelled. She founded Carlie’s Angels, a girls summer rock band camp.

Elena Kapeleris has performed with so many well known jazz and blues artists, including The Women’s Blues Band, Shakura S’Aida, and Ted Quinlan. She has played Massey Hall and several top jazz clubs as well as major Jazz Festivals.

On the keyboards is Lily Sazz, a graduate of the McMaster University honours music program, she has been playing professionally, originally as a classical musician, since 1985. Her introduction to Toronto Blues Society Women’s Blues Revue was in 1995, she has been Music Director for the last 10 years.

Like her colleagues in Sweet Loretta, she has a long sting of well known names with whom she has performed. She has launched a new band called Cootes Paradise.

Emily Burgess, an honours graduate from Humber College music program and an individualistic guitarist with her own evolving style, a constantly growing passion, played for five years with 24th Street Wailers, doing hundreds of shows across Canada, the USA and France. She has “shared the stage…” with such guitar greats, as Garrett Mason, Suzie Vinnick and Sam Weber. She currently also plays with ‘The Baddest Band in the Land’ Weber Brothers.

Ms. Chiarelli and her management team are sponsoring this tour themselves.  “We’re doing this tour under our own auspices and the shows are packing the theatres. Of course, now, the word is spreading like wild fire and the phone is ringing off the hook.”

She is a gifted songwriter and talks about writing all through her performance career. Perhaps even more remarkable is her very fine three octave voice that sets her apart. Critics rave about her singing and people flock to her concerts.

For tickets to tomorrow’s concert at the Town Hall Opera House, call the Box Office at 519-942-3423.

Written by Constance Scrafield

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