Sounding Board Music Series: Sonja Gustafson, Denise Pelley with Bryan Gloyd and Dizzy & Fay
Thanks to the support of Canadian Heritage, the Aeolian is able to provide a unique opportunity for a series of free concerts. With people still finding their feet since isolation during the Pandemic, many have not resumed normal routines including attending events. The current economic conditions also prevent many from attending events due to high costs. This series provides an opportunity to change these challenges and welcome the public in to a warm and inviting array of concerts; from classical and folk to Indigenous and songwriter, this series will feature music that can offer inspiration for most.
Come join us during the dark winter days, into the warm, welcoming arms of Aeolian Hall!
Music has been an integral part of Sonja’s life since childhood. Growing up with a music historian and a classically trained soprano as parents exposed her to a great deal of classical repertoire. Sonja spent much of her youth singing in choirs and playing the violin. In her late teens, she was presented with the opportunity to audition for the world reknowned Interlochen Arts Academy in Interlochen, Michigan. She decided to audition for the voice department, where room was available for one more student.
Sonja graduated from Interlochen with flying colours and returned home to Canada to continue studying voice at the Don Wright Faculty of Music at The University of Western Ontario. As part of her studies at UWO, Sonja performed in several operas to gain more experience on the stage. She also took up the position of soprano soloist at First St. Andrew’s United Church, which is widely recognized for its fine music program.
Simultaneously, a close friend encouraged her to try Jazz. Her initiation into the Jazz world was a New Year’s Eve gig at a local restaurant. That night proved to be a trial by fire as Sonja spent the evening entertaining the crowd with Jazz standards she’d only just learned (and more than a few which she had to sight-read!). Finding it to be an exhilirating experience, Sonja continued to work on expanding her jazz repertoire and finding a vocal technique that lent itself better to jazz than opera.
Following graduation, Sonja found herself performing more and more Jazz at local restaurants, clubs and private functions. She also worked full-time as a waitress, performing for enthusiastic crowds on nights and weekends. She collaborated with many of London’s very talented Jazz musicians, learning the skills of jazz musicianship as she went. Their mentoring of her singing paid off and in 2005, Sonja was recognized with a London Music Award for Most Popular Jazz Performer.
Denise has performed with many great artists including acclaimed trombonist Ray Anderson, Gospel/Blues legend Jackie Richardson and Flamenco guitarist Jesse Cook. She has opened for Aretha Franklin at the John Labatt Centre in London, Ontario.
Denise has performed with symphony orchestras and festivals which have included the du Maurier Downtown Jazz Festival (Toronto), Ottawa Jazz Festival, The Royal Canadian Big Band Festival (London), Bluesfest (London), Waterloo Jazz Festival and Sunfest (London), among others.
Denise also enjoys acting and has been part of The Grand Theatre (London) seasons performing in the Fats Waller musical Ain’t Misbehavin’, Wang Dang Doodle with Denis Simpson and A Streetcar Named Desire. Denise’s one-woman show, Jazzabel premiered in September 2004 at the McManus Theatre (Grand Theatre), London, Ontario to sold out audiences! In October 2005 Jazzabel was performed in Washington, DC at the National Museum for Women in the Arts and in February 2006 to audiences in New York City at Urban Stages Theatre. As well, she was premiered in the February 2006 issue of O (Oprah Winfrey) Magazine. Denise’s recording credits include seven CD’s.
She is honoured with being the recipient of the Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals. In 2003 she was named a YM-YWCA Woman of Distinction in the Arts and Heritage category. Denise won best jazz artist in London, Ontario’s Music Awards in 2002, 2003, 2006 and 2008, 2009, and 2012. In April 2006 the Hyde Park Rotary presented her with the Paul Harris Fellowship Award, Rotary’s highest honour. In 2008 and 2014 she won Jazz Artist of the Year at the Jack Richardson awards. In February 2009 the London Black History Committee honoured Denise with the Black Community Achievement Award in recognition of her accomplishments, contributions and support to her community. In April 2015 she was inducted into the Jack Richardson London Music Hall of Fame. In November 2015 Denise received a honourary licentiate diploma from Conservatory Canada.
Denise is a volunteer with Canadian Aid for Southern Sudan and has made ten trips to South Sudan where she helps to deliver a music and art camp for the children. She is also a board member with Educate the Children helping to raise funds for a school in Nigeria and a board member with Sunfest.
Bryan Gloyd’s happy place is at the piano working out some different approach to a jazz standard – or anything he’s just heard on Spotify and would like to explore. His background includes church and some recording work and lots of fun times accompanying vocalists. Really good times include working with Grammy Winner Matt Alber, songwriter Marc Jordan and Canadian National Jazz Award Winner Denzal Sinclaire.
Currently he is supporting the Aeolian as book keeper and Acting General Manager. He recently retired from a 30 year career in Animal Nutrition and is now down to just 1 job.
Much like a well balanced cocktail, songwriting duo Dizzy & Fay have undeniable chemistry. Inspired by the composers of the American Songbook, Dizzy’s passionate piano and Fay’s romantic voice are the perfect pairing; resulting in original jazz songs that sound fresh, while also echoing timeless standards. Their intuitive musical charm is captivating on record and on stage where audiences are fast becoming life long fans.
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The Aeolian is a beautiful, unique, award-winning location to host your event.
While particularly renowned for its acoustic/live music presentations, the Aeolian is a versatile facility and can also host conferences and fundraisers.
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