Internationally acclaimed vocalist/pianist Carol Welsman is a 6-time Juno Award Nominee with 12 albums and 60,000 in CD sales in Canada alone, something few jazz/pop artists in Canada have experienced. Her latest album, This is Carol – Jazz Beauties has received rave reviews since its release in Japan and was the No. 1 selling jazz album of 2019 in Tokyo. “I LIKE MEN – Reflections of Miss Peggy Lee”, was voted Top 5 album of the year in USA Today (all genres) in 2010.
Welsman is the granddaughter of Frank Welsman, founder/conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Carol has performed for such luminaries as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock (duet), and Gordon Lightfoot. She is quadra lingual and also records in these languages.
Carol has toured worldwide performing from duo to symphony concerts, captivating audiences and receiving standing ovations. A “Distinguished Alumnus” of Berklee College of Music, Carol is also a prolific song-writer and her songs have been recorded by Celine Dion, Pavarotti, Nicole Scherzinger, and Ray Charles.
- What passion project are you working on these days?
This year I fulfilled a longtime dream of recording a Latin jazz album with an all-Latin band, entitled “Dance with me”. It was released worldwide July 31, 2020 on Justin Time Records. I am a jazz vocalist and pianist, and since moving to Los Angeles 20 years ago, I have always had Latin musicians in my band. For the first time ever since I began recording, I gave the arranging job to 4-time Grammy-winning producer and arranger, Oscar Hernández and I’m glad I did. This kind of music is in his soul, and I wanted to hear the songs I chose from his point of view.
“Dance with me” is an eclectic collection of international music arranged with Latin rhythms, including salsa, boleros, cha cha cha, and calypso; all the while keeping within Latin jazz and traditional rhythms. These songs include popular Latin standards adapted into English, Great American Songbook standards, original compositions, and a Latin-flavored song penned by the great Randy Bachman of Bachman Turner Overdrive.
For me, the piece de résistance on this album is the duet with multi-Grammy winning Latin superstar, Juan Luis Guerra, called “Dance with me”. I met Juan Luis a few years ago in Santo Domingo, where I told him how much I loved his song “Si tú no bailas conmigo”, among others. Recently, I wrote an English adaptation to it, and when he heard it, he was gracious enough to accept an invitation to sing a bilingual duet with me.
- What first inspired you to become a musician? What was your training?
Being born into a very musical family was inspiration enough to pursue a musical journey in life. My mother, a classical pianist, obtained her ATCM and taught piano for many years. She was determined that we 4 siblings study classical piano as a base for whatever we would want to pursue. That proved to be very wise, as I have a particularly classical touch on the piano to this day. At the age of 10, I started to accompany myself singing pop material, and this led to my pursuit of a music career as a jazz vocalist and pianist.
- What are some challenges that you have faced while building a career in the arts and how did you overcome them?
In my early twenties, basically at the beginning of my performing career, I was diagnosed with a serious vocal disorder; polyps on my vocal cords. And, I was told by the ENT that I would never regain my full vocal register because of the damage to the cords. Surgery was out of the question. I received a Canada Council For the Arts grant to study with Christiane Legrand (sister of Michel) in Paris back in the 80s, and with Christiane’s expertise in this area of vocal rehabilitation, I was able to eventually overcome this huge hurdle and sing with a clear voice. The emotional strain was as damaging as the physical strain of simply talking, and though it was early in my career, re-learning how to breathe, talk and sing correctly was a major turning point for me. It showed me how driven I was creatively, working the next ten years on regaining my full vocal register. I proved the ENT wrong. Upon visiting him 17 years later, he said” Your vocal cords are perfect. I would never know you had polyps”.
I always wanted to earn a living from music. Early on it became clear that I wanted to record jazz, but on the side, corporate events were paying the bills. So I formed a corporation and record label, bought back my first CD from the original recording company, and started to manage the music for events and weddings, etc.. I hired two full-time employees to run the day to day business, and the profits allowed me to pay for recording and the pressing of CDs. The days were long and work-filled, but it was worth it because I was doing something I loved. So, I am proud to say I have always earned a living in the music business, but it’s thanks to my father’s good business guidance that this is successful.
- What lessons have you learned that has proven the most valuable?
Don’t give up! There are many times, believe me, that I felt I was spinning my wheels and wanted to jump ship and do something else. There are ebbs and flows in the arts in general, but especially in the music business. Patience is a virtue.
Though I don’t wish my previous vocal condition on anyone, there are many people who suffer from vocal disorders due to their professions, and I am in the process of writing a course outline so I can start one-on-one vocal rehabilitation with those in need, via the internet.
- What is your WHY? (why do you do what you do?)
Honestly, I don’t know what else I would do, and I’m so lucky to love what I do. Many people don’t enjoy their vocation. That’s a pity. In our family, we children were all blessed with a God-given talent of music. To be able to share this gift with so many people and bring such joy to their hearts makes it difficult to think of not being a musician.