Elizabeth Shepherd's salvation

The Halifax Jazz Fest singer got an unlikely musical start: through the Salvation Army.

Vocalist and pianist Elizabeth Shepherd had an unlikely musical educator: the Salvation Army. Growing up with parents who were Salvation Army ministers, she spent her childhood moving around Canada and France, with the church as the main basis of the family's social life. The Salvation Army "was a great foundation for music," she says, listing off their various bands and choirs. Shepherd played tambourine in one Salvation army band and sang in their Songsters choir, as well as following the Conservatory program.

Shepherd recently released her third album, Heavy Falls the Night, which she calls "a bit of a departure" from her earlier albums, having released them shortly after finishing music studies at McGill. With the early records, there was "a bit of a need to be accepted in the jazz community," she says. The new record is "much more genuine to who I am musically, and ironically, it's much less jazzy....It's more about observations, stories of people I've met along the way." Shepherd takes a strong interest in social justice and the disenfranchised from her Salvation Army upbringing. "I try to write more about what I see around me, to be aware of the other---a lot of songs I write are about things people don't necessarily want to hear about." The album include songs about suicide, depression, the work of the Salvation Army and a "feminist tribute to all the women who've come before."

"It's not a lot of light fluffy stuff, yet the songs are pretty upbeat."

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