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Norah Jones Diana Krall Melody Gardot

Genres You Will Love
Moods: Solo Female Artist Easy Listening: Adult contemporary Jazz: Crossover Jazz Jazz: Jazz-Pop Jazz: Jazz Vocals

By Location
CANADA - Ontario CANADA - Ontario

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Wendy Lands

In the beginning, I was as moved and inspired by Carole King, as I was by Keith Jarrett, as in awe of Stevie Wonder, as I was of Chet Baker, I lip-synched to Billie Holiday and cried to Rickie Lee Jones - and when I began to write my own songs, my goal was to straddle that fine line between pop and jazz – to be a nuanced artist with a penchant for rich harmonies, sophisticated textures and killer musicianship.

I moved from my home town of Montreal to Toronto at the age of 19, and paid my dues as a singer for hire on live dates and recording sessions, surrounded and supported by some of the best musicians in town - including my (now) husband, Jim Gillard. In Jim, I realized I’d met someone I could share my musical vision with, as well as my life. Our shared passion for great music brought us together back in the day and has kept us together – gig after gig, song after song, triumph after obstacle.

While studying arts at York University, I made a demo and had the good fortune to be signed to my first record deal - as half of the soul/pop duo, Double Dare. It was a great opportunity to learn on the job, as I was literally thrown into the music-biz fire! I co-wrote and recorded an album, played Toronto’s iconic Massey Hall and The National Arts Centre in Ottawa, and had the thrill of hearing our hit song Can’t Hold On aired on radio stations everywhere.

When Double Dare broke up, I auditioned for the original Canadian cast of Les Miserables, and became a member of the ensemble as well as the understudy for the character Eponine. I ended up performing as Eponine many times, which was one of the greatest experiences of my life. This is also when my career as a voice-actor began – I’ve since voiced over a thousand TV and radio commercials and I gotta say: it’s the best job in the world.

In 1996, I released my first solo album, Angels & Ordinary Men. It led me to a recording contract with EMI and a publishing deal with Warner Chappell Music. The title track hit number one in Toronto and went top 20 across the country, garnering me a Juno nomination and two Canadian Radio Music Award nods. Billboard Magazine called it ‘One of the most impressive Canadian recordings in years.’

My publishing deal with Warner Chappell in L.A. opened the door to co-writing with America’s finest writers including Paul Williams, Melissa Manchester, and Larry John McNally, and it also gave us a great reason to move there. Before long, Jim and I were mixing and mingling with a who’s who list of songwriters and players – including John Leftwich (Carmen McRae/Rickie Lee Jones/Hubert Laws/Melody Gardot) who was about to produce the companion CD to the Academy Award winning film, The Pianist. He had been searching for a singer for the project - a pop/jazz hybrid - and asked me to sing the entire album; Wendy Lands Sings The Music of The Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman was released in 2002 by Hippo/ Universal USA and was praised by publications such as USA Today, The Record and Variety who said, “Lands texturally saddles up to two Joneses, Norah and Rickie Lee.”

There I was, amid the palm trees and mudslides, recording that album with some of the finest jazz musicians in L.A. The dream was complete when one night, my producer John Leftwich invited me to an intimate sing-along/gathering at the home of Rickie Lee Jones. I experienced one of the most “pinch me” nights of my life, as I sat on her living room floor, sang along and harmonized with Rickie, Charlie Haden and my husband, Jim.

We moved back to Toronto in 2006, and I dedicated as much time as I could to being there for our new daughter, which meant stepping away from music for a few years. In 2011, I returned to the studio to record Mumble, producing it with Jim Gillard, Greg Kavanagh and Don Breithaupt. Mumble is a jazzy, flirty, intimate ride - sparsely produced, unadorned yet unabashed.

Now, I’m thrilled to be releasing my fifth studio album Altitude - a jazz/soul/pop hybrid of story-driven songs that are filled with vivid characters, intimate tales and heartfelt revelations. The songs on Altitude chronicle love, loss, letting go and sweet liberation. Produced by Marvin Dolgay, I wrote the songs with my long-time co-writers Jim Gillard and Don Breithaupt, as well as Marvin coming in on a few co-writes as well.

With this record, our plan was to simply let nothing get in the way of the storyteller and the story, the singer and the song. I crawled inside and inhabited each song to sweep the listener up, so they might see themselves and their own experiences in the lyrics and stories. To me, the themes on Altitude are universal - they're everybody's stories.