Toronto Jazz Festival

The beautiful sounds of Lorraine Klaasen at #TOJazzFest

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I’ve spent most of my life living north of the 401. Even the past 8 years that I’ve lived south of the 401 I’m still close enough that if I listen very carefully, I can still hear the eastbound traffic.

That being the case, it’s near impossible for me to trek downtown to catch most of the festivals that Toronto has to offer. You see, Toronto’s festivals mostly take place downtown: Pride parade and events, NXNE, TIFF, Fringe Festival, Carnival/Caribana, Buskerfest, JFL42, Nuit Blanche and, until recently, the Toronto Jazz Festival.

And I’d like to thank the Shops at Don Mills for bringing “Toronto” to the “burbs”.

Shops on Don Mills courtesy of  Napkins and Nannies
Shops at Don Mills courtesy of Napkins and Nannies

This year, Toronto’s Jazz Festival is returning and playing at the Shops’ Town Square. And Sunday’s afternoon performance by Montreal’s Lorraine Klaasen under a clear blue sky was amazing!

Backed by a four piece band, Klaasen sang numerous popular songs from her catalogue as well as songs from popular Southern African singers, including from her mom, Thandi Klaasen (one of South Africa’s most beloved singers).

If you didn’t know her (and I didn’t when I joined the hundreds of music fans on the green lawn in front of the stage) you would have thought you were listening to Soweto’s most popular music export. And while that’s partially true, Klaasen currently calls Montreal home. Just last year she won the Juno award for World Music Album of the year!

While I arrived late for her show, I enjoyed the last 5 songs of her set. Her songs kept everyone dancing (the people who braved the heat and sun) clapping and dancing in their chairs (the rest of us who didn’t want to drop from dehydration!). I would 100% recommend Lorraine Klaasen to anyone who is a fan of music.

Lorraine Klaasen plays Toronto Jazz Festival
Lorraine Klaasen plays Toronto Jazz Festival

Here’s a bit of her bio from her Wikipedia page:

Lorraine Klaasen was influenced by South Africa’s musical giants of the 1950s and 1960s, such as Miriam MakebaDolly RathebeDorothy Masuka, Sophie Mgcina and Busi Mhlongo, contemporaries and friends of her mother, Thandi Klaasen.

She launched her career at a very young age, accompanying her mother to live performances all over South Africa and neighboring states of Mozambique and Swaziland. Later she got into musical theater and toured across Europe, eventually arriving in Canada where she settled in Montreal.

Klaasen’s musical repertoire has been steadily infused with a blend of Quebec, Haitian and French African influences, along with several African languages (Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Lingala) and her band musicians’ Caribbean roots to create an eclectic sound.

Lorraine Klaasen was nominated and subsequently won the 2013 Juno Award for World Music Album of the Year for her album Tribute to Miriam Makeba, released in 2012.

For more on this amazing singer check out her website at http://www.lorraineklaasen.com/

Klaasen and her mother were the favourite musicians of the late Nelson Mandela.