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Kellylee Evans. Photo courtesy <a href="http://www.kellyleeevans.com">kellyleeevans.com</a>
Kellylee Evans. Photo courtesy kellyleeevans.com

Juno Award winner Kellylee Evans takes the stage in Norwood

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The Juno Award-winning singer is very popular in Canada and France, but not too well known (yet) in the U.S. She'll be bringing her unique blend of jazz and soul to the Norwood Village Green Concert Series June 20 at 7 pm. Joel Hurd tells us more.

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“Two weeks ago I got hit by lightning in the house; I’m sort of just starting to tell people today. So I’ll do my best with the interview so if I’m a bit slow that’s the reasoning why,” says Juno award winner Kellylee Evans. She was barefoot in her kitchen during a fierce thunderstorm, wiping the counter, just as lightning struck nearby.  Her mobility is still affected, her voice was not. As she continues to recover, she will give her performance Thursday night at the Norwood Village Green, seated.

Kellylee Evans grew up near Toronto and attended Carlton University in Ottawa in the mid 1990s, earning degrees in Law and English. At school, she often sang for fun at various events. In 2004, she placed second in the Thelonious Monk International Vocal Competition in Washington. Since then, her career as a professional musician has blossomed.

Evans believes that her change in career path had something to do with the death of her mother. She says, “I just realized that you don’t have that much time; you don’t have a lot of time.” After that, Evans made her music both her love and a career choice.

Evans has received much support from the community in Ottawa. Evans says, “It’s a small community, so I think small communities can do a wonderful job in giving you a place to fall, and also help to push you further.” Evans credits the Ottawa Jazz Festival and the National Arts Center for their support and contributions to promoting her professional career.

In 2011, she won a Juno for Vocal Jazz Album of the Year for her album Nino, a tribute to jazz artist Nina Simone.

Evans new album I Remember When, which will be released later this year, is a new direction for her. It will feature covers of songs by artists such as Kanye West, Eminem, and Alicia Keys, as well as some original work.

With the new release pitched more toward her own (younger) age group, she wasn’t sure whether the older audience that enjoyed her previous recording would respond as well. However, she discovered that audiences still recognized the songs. “It taught me a lesson, not to underestimate my audience, and to realize that just because somebody is a bit older than me doesn’t mean they don’t have the same interest in music as I do.”

Evans spends much of her time in France. She fell in love with France when she went there to record the Nina Simone project in 2009. She’s been there seven times this year and plans to go back every month until December. She’s back in France for a tour beginning next Saturday night, But before that it’s the Norwood Village Green Concert Series with her band tomorrow night. The show starts at 7 pm.

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