BY EMILY ROGERS
Red Deer Express
A wide range of local and international talent is set to perform at the annual Jazz at the Lake Festival (JATL) at Sylvan Lake this month. An amazing line-up of performers and events are planned spanning the weekend of Aug. 17th to 20th.
In addition to being the event coordinator, accomplished singer and JATL co-founder Cheryl Fisher will also be performing on Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Alliance Community Church.
“Fisher has been performing for 20 years, and is recognized as an international jazz performer who brings authenticity and vitality to every song,” a JATL press release stated. “Fisher’s live performances continue to receive glowing reviews for their originality, emotional depth and outstanding technical excellence.”
With her latest album, Quietly There, Fisher won a Global Music Award and was in contention for a Grammy nomination.
“It’s quite obvious she is totally at home as a live performer, immediately engaging her audiences with an innate ability to make everyone in the room feel like she is performing just for them.”
She has performed in venerated jazz clubs and festivals throughout the U.S. and Canada. Fisher has also represented Canada in several Consulate events in the U.S. and has been cited as a rising star by NPR Radio Network, CBC and Shaw Cable who all have done featured presentations on her.
Her music is also regularly played nationally by Diane Donovan (Women in Jazz – CKUA), Ross Porter (After Hours), and Tim Tamashiro (Tonic – CBC).
Her work has also been featured on film, radio and in jazz publications in Europe, the United States, Canada and Brazil.
On the local front, Fisher’s family was heavily involved in music – all of her siblings and cousins played an instrument while growing up. Her grandfather’s mission was also to bring more music and an increased sense of culture to Sylvan Lake.
She subsequently came up with the idea for a summer festival and promptly others were onboard as well.
Beginning the JATL Festival indeed occurred naturally. And since Fisher’s childhood in Sylvan Lake revolved around music, she couldn’t think of a better place to begin a jazz festival. Also, the large jazz festivals always occur around water, she added. “There’s something about water; it encourages all artists.”
Fisher said she is very fortunate in the sense that the JATL Festival is greatly supported by the community.
She added the same volunteers have been helping at the event year after year. “The community looks at the jazz festival as their own.”
The event is not only made for jazz purists, however. People from all walks of life attend the event. Fisher added, “The community trusts us to bring in world-class performers to the small town.”
She said people are going to attend the festival because they are willing to be open-minded and expand their musical horizons.
In order for the Festival to bring in new jazz artist, a strong relationship with the community is required – JATL also has a solid relationship with American jazz musicians as well who are frequently brought into the event.
Meanwhile, Fisher holds a Bachelors Degree in Education (with distinction) from the University of Calgary and a Masters Degree in Jazz Vocal Performance from the University of Miami, where she also taught voice. In addition to an international performing schedule, she is also a respected jazz educator and has been on the dais of several North American jazz scholarship committees.
As to her performance at JATL, audiences can expect a range of musical selections – Sylvan Lake is also scheduled to be her last tour date promoting the Quietly There album. Finishing the tour in Sylvan Lake was also a strategic decision; she wanted to celebrate the 15-year milestone of JATL with the locals.
Currently, Fisher is working on the details of a holiday performance she will be doing with the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra.
Additional information and show dates can be found on Fisher’s web site at www.cherylfisher.com.
Full details about Jazz at the Lake can be found at www.jazzatthelake.com, while tickets can be purchased online or at Trilliant Real Estate Group in Sylvan Lake.