Shannon Butcher

If you want to define the musical essence of Shannon Butcher’s new debut solo album, Words We Both Could Say, imagine jazz, pop and rock living in perfect harmony.
Following a glorious five-year run as a member of the acclaimed Swing Rosie, Butcher now offers ten dynamic interpretations of modern hits like Tears For Fears’ ‘Mad World’ and Glen Campbell’s ‘Wichita Lineman.’
These are more than just dramatic contrasts: they’re a new chapter of expression in Butcher’s expanding vocabulary as a jazz interpreter and performer.
‘Jazz isn’t about one label or style; it’s not about one person or time,’ says Butcher. ‘It’s about the freedom to bring together all of your experiences and sing in the moment using every aspect of your musical personality.’
‘People used to pull the music that was standing beside them and bring it into jazz and play with it that way,’ Butcher explains. ‘I wanted to bring in some of the music that I love that aren’t ‘standards.’
‘There are so many musical styles co-existing in my imagination. I see them dancing around together in there, and then they become dance partners and they share each other’s steps.’
Born in Mississauga, Ontario, Shannon Butcher has been singing since the age of six. Influenced by her parents’ Frank Sinatra music collection, Butcher learned jazz at Cawthra Park Arts High School, inspired in part by a performing visit from future international superstar Diana Krall.
Later, Butcher pursued post-secondary classical music studies at the University of Toronto.
‘I really wanted to learn about my instrument,’ she recalls. ‘I think all the pedagogy we have on the human voice is really based in classical music. This new style of singing we use with jazz is a little more visceral. I appreciate the fact that I had the voice training that I have so I can manipulate my instrument.’
Vocal lessons with Jo-Anne Bentley, Elaine Overholt and former Nylons singer Micah Barnes — as well as piano lessons from Frank Falco — also helped Butcher find her signature style. But it was her run with Swing Rosie, an Andrews Sisters-styled trio formed with Kira Callahan and Chantelle Wilson, that first brought Shannon Butcher to public attention.
Swing Rosie released one album, Sing Cool, Swing Hot, that was added to the rotations of JAZZ FM91, CBC Radio and AM740 and topped Canadian campus radio charts all across the country. Swing Rosie also enjoyed a regular residency at Toronto’s revered The Rex, appeared on Breakfast Television and grew a following in Europe, Japan, Australia and south of the border.
Swing Rosie probably could have lasted forever, but the trio felt it was time to transition from the ’40s to their individual muses, enabling Butcher to arrange and record Words We Both Could Say and appear in such high profile events as the recent Oscar Peterson Tribute Concert, where she shared the stage with Molly Johnson, David Braid and Sophie Milman.
Released on Butcher’s own Summer Bloom Records, Words We Both Could Say is an open door invitation to fuse styles and transcend expectations.
‘I love the idea of reaching that person who maybe doesn’t think of jazz as the music that they listen to,’ Butcher explains. ‘When they hear a song that they know, like ‘Mad World’…I hope the lyrics will take on a new meaning because the style gives it a new inflection.
‘There’s a different kind of freedom in jazz, and that’s the whole reason I do it, to reveal a little more of myself,’ she notes.
‘I just wanted to bring myself through all of these songs and through these words and amazing melodies and changes.’
‘One of my favourite parts of jazz is that it’s different every time, and you’re always in the moment with the people that you’re playing with, so it’s about what they’re playing underneath you and the exchange of ideas between yourself and them.’
Words We Both Could Say represents Shannon Butcher’s present and future with an irresistible and spontaneous collection of music.