annotated bio

Written by sdperlman

Sophia Perlman is singer, musiciansongwriterchoral conductor, arranger and arts facilitator/educator. Born in Toronto, she is currently based out of Hamilton, Ontario, and is known primarily for her work as a jazz and blues vocalist in Southern Ontario, and as a bandleader, co-leader, musical director and collaborative musician for diverse music, theatre and dance projects.

Sophia showed an early interest in harmony and vocal music: Her earliest experiences as a performer were with Kensingon Karnival in the early 1990’s.

Thanks to the generosity of her grandmother, she attended early childhood music classes at the Royal Conservatory of Music and later continued her musical and dramatic training as a long-standing member of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, and as a young singer, had the opportunity to sing with professional ensembles in Canada and Europe. Despite this classical foundation, she grew up surrounded by different music, and the musical cultures and traditions of her neighbours, and found herself increasingly drawn to jazz and collaborative music. This, and a well timed visit to the jazz week at Interprovincial Music Camp, lead her in 2003 to continue her musical education at Humber College in the Jazz Studies Program.  

Since emerging from the program in 2006, Sophia has built a diverse and multifaceted career with music at its core. An improviser at heart, she is known largely as an inventive and spontaneous interpreter of standard and contemporary jazz music. Over the last decade, she has been a featured guest, collaborator and arranger for a wide range of acclaimed recordings, played at clubs and music festivals coast to coast, and received regularly airplay on JazzFM91 and CBC Radio.

 In addition, she has lent her voice, arranging skill and love of harmony to support a myriad of projects outside the jazz umbrella. She has a deep rooted love and respect for folk music traditions, and for songs and songwriters. Woven through her career is a life-long fascination with the ways that music, and narrative and emotion connect and support each other, beginning with an early fascination with opera. PerlHaze, an ongoing collaboration with creative partner-in-crime Terra Hazelton, and her work as a collaborative theatre musician has allowed her to come out as a deft lyricist and creative songwriter, and to emerge as a multi-instrumentalist and live vocal arranger. 

Alongside a career as a performer and creator, is a tandem career in music and arts education and mentorship that began with an opportunity to assist with the Canadian Opera Company’s Summer Education programming, under the mentorship of Caroline Holloway, Lynda Hill and Dr. Sandra Boyce. This early experienced empowered her to put at the core of her creative practice the life-long belief that every person is creative and innately musical, and that everybody can and should be empowered to sing.

She is the past coordinator for the Canadian Children’s Opera Company’s OPERAtion KIDS outreach program, where she collaboratively wrote operas with over 1000 elementary aged students in the GTA. She also served as the inaugural conductor for their two youngest choir divisions for children as young as 3. She has also previously taught music/drama/collaborative arts for Music For Young Children, Long and McQuade, Merriam Music, Humber Community Music School, and An Instrument for Every Child.

She currently teaches private instrument and ensemble courses at Mohawk College in Hamilton, and is in her fifth season as vocal coach and children’s choir conductor for the We Are One Jazz Project in Belleville. She also provides regular youth and adult education and workshops through Jazz FM 91 , the Jazz Education and Performance Centre, and as a freelance artist educator in the Toronto and Hamilton-Wentworth District School Boards, is a regular fixture at Toronto’s WeeFestival and is much in demand as a compassionate and play-based music mentor for students of all ages.

In August 2019, she completes another circle and joins the faculty of the renowned jazz program at Interprovincial Music Camp, and looks forward to continuing her exploration of music along Canada’s rail lines.

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