WESTLOCK – From a young age, Ellen Doty knew music would be a big part of her life, but it wasn’t until a fateful meeting with devoted fans in Calgary in 2011 that the singer-songwriter’s career took off.
“When I was in university, I started performing quite a bit. I was actually approached by some fans that often came to see my shows, to see if they could fund recording my first album, which was really amazing,” said Doty, noting a weekly gig at (Hotel) Fairmont Palliser and past performances at the Beat Niq jazz club in Calgary. “I hadn’t even really thought about when or if I would record. That really set me on a path.”
The 34-year-old singer originally from Okotoks will be sharing her soulful music and unique style with Westlock and area residents when she performs here Jan. 27, as part of the 2022-2023 Cultural Arts Theatre Society (CATS) performance series. Tickets, priced at $35 per show, can be purchased in person at MTech Printing and Signs, 10039 - 107th Street, or online by visiting www.WestlockCulturalArtsTheatre.com, and clicking www.simplytickets.ca.
Shortly after recording her first EP in 2011, she began touring, and completed a 42 stop-tour across Canada from Sydney, N.S. to Victoria, B.C. In 2013, Doty was the recipient of the ‘Outstanding Soloist’ award from the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival at the University of Idaho. She also completed a Banff Centre Artist Residency for collaborative song writing at the renowned Banff Centre. Her first full length album, Gold was released in 2014.
Doty studied vocal jazz at Carleton University in Ottawa, as well as a minor in music at the University of Calgary. She has toured around the world, including performances across Canada and the United States and recently completed an 18-show Canadian tour, a jazz festival tour and had a feature performance at the Tokyo Jazz Festival.
Doty brings a mix of different influences to the stage, including jazz, soul, pop, and folk, with a classic and youthful presentation.
“I like to incorporate storytelling in my shows so there’s a lot of different things together,” said Doty, noting the origins of the jazz influence. “My grandmother lived across the street from Nat King Cole in Los Angela’s growing up, so my grandparents were big jazz fans. They used to go out swing dancing and go see Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Benny Goodman and all the greats, so that’s where that part of my (influence) came from.”
Over the years, Doty’s music has evolved to include subtle differences in both her style and approach to performing. In her most recent album, Come Fall which was released in 2018, the singer-songwriter took a minimalist approach with only voice, piano and drums in every song on the album.
“There’s no background vocals, no layers, it’s very minimal and the music is stripped away leaving space for the lyrics and the songs themselves to really breath — so that was definitely a difference from the earlier stuff,” she said, noting horns, bass, guitar, piano and drums on previous works. “It’s been really interesting to experiment with being more minimal and thoughtful with how we arrange music and what’s playing.”
She is currently touring Alberta and Saskatchewan with a run of shows during the month of January and so far, has performed in Camrose, St. Albert, Medicine Hat, and Saskatoon, with Westlock one of her next stops. While here, Doty will be joined on stage by Peter Hendrickson on drums, and Devin Hart on piano.
Westlock residents can expect another, soulful, upbeat concert with a youthful spin, showcasing some of Doty’s original songs, some older pieces as well as some newer numbers. Doty said she looks forward to sharing an evening of music with Westlock residents.
“I think it’ll be a beautiful evening of music — I love to interact with the audience, have fun and share stories,” said Doty. “I’m actually getting ready to record a new album, so I’ll be sharing some of the (songs) that are going to be on the new album. We always do a couple of re-imagined standards as well, my take on some jazz standards which is a lot of fun. We’ll laugh together and maybe cry together but it’ll be a great evening.”