2020 JUNO Award winner Dawn Tyler Watson will explore
the emotional aspects of singing at “Art of Improvisation.”
“When I found out I had won, I screamed really loud,” says blues singer Dawn Tyler Watson, whose album “Mad Love” took home a 2020 JUNO Award, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy in the United States. “It’s great to have the recognition and street cred, especially in the blues community.”
Not that she needs them. Since teaming up with guitarist-bandleader Ben Racine in 2015, Watson has built a global following with her maverick compositions and expert instrumentation.
Accolades have followed—from sweeping this year’s Maple Blues Awards in Toronto to winning the 2017 International Blues Challenge in Memphis.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” says Watson, whose vocal artistry encompasses jazz, rock, soul, blues, gospel and folk.
Attendees of this year’s “Art of Improvisation” (AOI) also will have something to scream about, as Watson makes her Music for People (MfP) debut. On Aug. 5, she will present a special webinar titled “Vocal Expressions,” exploring the emotional aspects of singing.
“If you can talk, you can sing,” says the British-born multi-instrumentalist, who moved to Ontario as a child and later earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Concordia University in Montreal. “I’ll help you get rid of your inner critic, the side of the brain analyzing everything.”
When improvising, the first thing out of your mouth is a good place to start. You need to trust your creative impulse.Dawn Tyler Watson
She adds: “When improvising, the first thing out of your mouth is a good place to start. You need to trust your creative impulse.”
Watson is thrilled to reconnect with Irene Feher, who is hosting an exciting lineup of guests for AOI’s Vocal Track. Both are Concordia alumni, in fact. “When Irene invited me to participate, we spoke for nearly two hours on the phone,” Watson recalls. “She is so easy to talk to, like an old friend.”
Feher, who teaches voice at Concordia and nearby McGill University, returns the compliment, saying Watson has an “incredibly powerful, expressive voice.”
“Dawn is full of life and passion, and sings from the heart,” Feher adds. “When we met virtually, for the first time, to talk about Music for People, we connected on every level. Dawn gets it—she’s a born facilitator.”While Watson eschews labels, she hopes her jazz and blues background will prove beneficial at AOI—not only to classically trained musicians wanting to “step outside the box,” but also to people with little or no singing experience.
“We need to make friends with our own unique voice and to stop comparing ourselves with others,” says Watson, noting there is only one Barbra Streisand and one Luciano Pavarotti. “There’s only one of you.”
As if on cue, Watson goes on to say there are no wrong notes, only different choices, in free improvisation. Sound familiar?
“Singing is 95-percent psychological,” she smiles, paraphrasing MfP’s Bill of Musical Rights. “Just be yourself, and trust your impulse. You’ll love the results.”
Connect with Dawn at: https://www.dawntylerwatson.com/.
Author: Rob Enslin