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Peter Campbell

"There are two kinds of music. Good music, and the other kind." - Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington

Ellington’s remark resonates with Peter Campbell and his approach to repertoire and musical exploration. Peter has worked in any number of musical genres: from folk and art song to jazz, Tin Pan Alley and musical theatre. He welcomes the wealth, diversity and integrity of popular song, in whichever form it appears.

In a culture accustomed to almost obligatory “branding,” Peter classifies his sound as “Traditional Pop.” Highlighting the fundamental importance of the voice and harmonic complexity of music predating the advent of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Traditional Pop may encompass a multitude of influences, including Peter’s two most important sources of vocal inspiration: folk singer Judy Collins and the late jazz singer and pianist Shirley Horn. For Peter, Ms. Collins emphasizes the natural purity of the vocal instrument; Ms. Horn was one of the great lyric interpreters of her generation.

Peter Campbell was born to a Canadian mother and an American father and spent his formative years in Manhattan. Extended stays in Nova Scotia and Ontario during holidays and summer months solidified his dual cultural identity. Coming by his creative talents honestly, Peter grew up in and around the entertainment industry in New York. He is a descendant of Canadian Confederation poet William Wilfred Campbell. His paternal grandfather was Juilliard graduate Charles Lichter, a noted American orchestral conductor and violinist; for many years on staff at Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS); a member of the Ed Sullivan Orchestra; and producer and arranger for conductor André Kostelanetz. His grandmother was a vocal recitalist and accompanist; his aunt, a flutist and faculty member of The Juilliard School; and his father, a broadcast producer who trained as a clarinetist at New York’s High School of Music & Art.

Through the proverbial audition process, eleven-year-old Peter was selected from over 100 hopefuls to perform in a weekly cabaret series at Something Different, a well-known New York venue featuring “Young Stars” from the theatre and film communities. Honing his performance skills for over a year, Peter had the opportunity to perform alongside other young aspiring talents Ricki Lake (Hairspray) and Deborah Gibson (Foolish Beat).

Following graduation from McGill University in Montreal, Canada with a B.A. in Art History, Peter returned to New York City to follow his musical dream. Early exposure to the recording process enabled him to participate in production demos and commercial jingles for clients such as Amnesty International, Aramis, Bausch & Lomb, Book-of-the-Month Club and Burger King. During this time and well into the new century, Peter appeared at many of New York City’s cabaret venues, including Eighty Eight’s and Don’t Tell Mama. He was the opening act for Tony Award winner Melba Moore at Cabaret at the DeSisto Estate, Stockbridge, Massachusetts and performed a sold-out concert celebrating the work of composer Stephen Sondheim at the Cain Park Cabaret Series, Cleveland Heights, Ohio.

As the millennium approached, Peter decided to pursue his interest in Design History, enrolling in the Masters program in the History of Decorative Arts and Design, a joint venture between Parsons The New School for Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. His graduate work culminated in the publication of Birth of the Cool: The Image of Jazz on Record in the 1950s. His M.A. thesis united his diverse academic interests in the studies of graphic design, material culture, visual language and music history. In addition, Peter contributed to the centennial publication Eye of The Beholder: Masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. For several years following completion of his M.A., Peter served as a guest lecturer in Architectural History at Parsons, with a specialization in the history of Italian Renaissance and Baroque architecture and modernist architecture of New York City.

Despite his foray into the world of academia, Peter’s passion for the performing arts was ever present. In 2006, he had the pleasure of recording an album of standards featuring veteran musicians Lee Musiker (Tony Bennett, Barbara Cook), Chip Jackson (Billy Taylor, Elvin Jones) and Gene Bertoncini (Nancy Wilson, Lena Horne). The recording was both a personal and musical milestone for Peter and showcased the work of songwriters including Antônio Carlos Jobim, Jacques Brel, Stephen Sondheim and Jimmy Webb.

It has been Peter’s good fortune and great pleasure to study voice for many years with Joyce McLean of The Juilliard School. He previously coached with the late Paul Trueblood, musical director for Michael Feinstein and Marianne Faithfull and pianist for lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. In Toronto, Peter has coached with Micah Barnes, Canadian singer-songwriter and former member of The Nylons.

Peter is currently collaborating with Toronto-based, American-born pianist Mark Kieswetter (Jon Hendricks, Emilie-Claire Barlow). Having appeared at local Toronto venues such as Chalker’s and Gate 403, Peter recently performed as part of the 2014 TD Toronto Jazz Festival.

Street of Tears, a recording produced and co-arranged by Peter, features the stellar musical talents of Mark Kieswetter (piano and Fender Rhodes), Reg Schwager (electric and acoustic guitars), Ross MacIntyre (acoustic bass), Daniel Barnes (drums) and Alan Hetherington (percussion). Composers and lyricists represented on Street of Tears include: Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Cohen, Jimmy Webb, Blossom Dearie, Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Johnny Mandel, Michel Legrand and Alan & Marilyn Bergman.

Having relocated to Canada from New York City in 2012, Peter resides in Toronto. He is a member of Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television & Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).

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