ACCLAIMED SOUTH AFRICAN-CANADIAN SINGERS LORRAINE KLAASEN & JUNE GARBER PRESENT
IN THEIR BLOOD… SISTERS IN SONG
Lorraine and June were both born in Johannesburg and came to Canada in the 70’s to escape apartheid, a system abhorrent to each of them. Born and raised in Soweto, Lorraine experienced firsthand the oppression of racial discrimination; June grew up in a white area of town, but recognized from an early age the cruelty of the system. Although they knew each other by reputation, Lorraine and June didn’t meet until September of 2016 at the Kensington Market Jazz Festival where June was performing. The meeting was arranged by another Juno Award-winning musician, Dominic Mancuso, who knew both women and was intrigued by the similarities and contrasts between them.
“Dominic recognized the strong connection we both retained to our South Africa roots, and thought the common thread of our music, although from different genres, presented an opportunity for us to work together,” Klaasen recounted.
“From the moment I met Lorraine, I knew we had a bond, not just as South Africans and singers, but as women who share the same values,” says Garber. “The protest songs that were such an important part of the anti-apartheid movement resonate strongly with me. And the connection through jazz to Lorraine’s late mother is another bond.”
in their blood….Sisters in Song will weave together a program of songs that evoke the enduring connection of Lorraine and June to their native land – “We left South Africa, but South Africa never left us,” they say – with songs of struggle, hope, joy and celebration. Lorraine’s uplifting and energetic repertoire from the African songbook and June’s renditions of beautiful jazz standards that complete the circle to Thandi Klaasen will leave audiences wanting more.
Lorraine Klaasen’s musical career began at a young age, touring Africa with her late mother, legendary South African jazz singer Thandi Klaasen. After an early career in musical theatre in Europe, Lorraine moved to Montreal in 1979. She was influenced by her mother and her contemporaries, including Miriam Makeba who was a family friend. Lorraine later performed with Makeba and in 2012 produced A Tribute to Miriam Makeba which won her the 2013 Juno for World Music Album of the Year. Her music shows influences from the Caribbean, Haiti and Quebec, but it is the Township Music and folk songs of her native South Africa that define her most. Lorraine sings in several African languages including Sotho, Xhosa, Swahili and Lingala. Her dynamic stage presence and showmanship have captivated fans of world music, jazz and African music throughout North America, the Caribbean and Europe for almost four decades.
June Garber arrived in Canada in 1975. She formed her own group of backup singers and musicians, performing a repertoire of contemporary songs across the U.S. and Canada. She moved her focus to theatre performing across Canada in both dramatic and musical roles, before taking a hiatus of almost 20 years. She returned to singing in the early 2000’s, recording her first jazz album, Smile, in 2005, followed by Here’s to You in 2008. Known for her ability to connect to her audiences and render heartfelt performances, she has developed a strong following in Toronto and in Florida where she spent some time in 2013. Her latest album, This I Know, released in May 2016 featured some rarely-performed jazz songs and a touch of South Africa, including Underneath the Jacaranda Tree, an original inspired by the memories of her homeland’s landscape.