Winnipeg's Jazz Magazine


January/February 2009: Sophie Milman

Mira Black

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Mira Black was born in Winnipeg in 1968, but didn’t stay here very long. She spent much of her childhood in many exotic places—India, Florida, Antigua—but eventually landed back in Winnipeg. At Balmoral Hall, she began to sing in musicals and “because it was an all-girls school and because of my vocal range and my stature, I got to play all the great male roles in musical theatre!” More importantly, on stage she was able to forget that she was “deathly shy.”

After high school Mira went on the road across Canada for several years with a gypsy/swing/folk band called Acoustically Inclined. “We got to open for great bands like Blue Rodeo, Sarah McLaughlin, The Crash Test Dummies.” When asked her about her musical training, she says, “I got my butt kicked on the road, just doing it every night for months in a row.” Her bandmates included jazz musicians Gilles Fournier and Richard Moody, but she took her time getting to jazz. “Sarah Vaughan was the first vocalist that I understood to be an all around musician rather than a singer in a musical. When I heard a recording of her singing “Stella by Starlight” I thought, ‘Wow, I didn’t know you could even do that! Could I do that?’ It was inspiring to me.”

After an attempt to become a “wife with a degree and a 9-to-5 job and a house with a picket fence,” she became ill. Gradually she realized it was an illness of her spirit, brought about partly because she had moved away from music. “For whatever reason, music feeds me, performing feeds me, expressing myself in my art heals me.”

Mira is now on a full-speed artist’s journey. She’s been a featured artist at the Jazz Winnipeg Festival for the last several years. Last year, she debuted an original jazz-theatre piece, “Lush Life,” in Jazz Winnipeg’s Nu Sounds series at the Park Theatre—plans are taking shape for another production later this year. She recently released Live @ The Moment, a debut CD of original material that combines jazz, folk and pop sensibilities with a trance-like soulfulness. This winter and spring, she’s singing with the WJO, as well as at the Current Lounge and other gigs around town, and in April she’ll host her (11th annual) 29th birthday bash, a party that features her many musical friends in this town.

Curious about her busy schedule? Visit myspace.com/mirablack.


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