Friday, July 27, 2007


By Larry Leblanc (

Before you read my current Billboard article on singer Sophie Millman, I'd like to highly recommend--as a fan-- the new Dualtone album, "Anchored in Love: A Tribute to June Carter Cash." Fusion III is distributing this remarkable album in Canada. Over the years there are classic old timey albums released that music fans from all ages and diverse musical backgrounds have embraced. This includes Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's 1972 album, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", as well as the 2000 soundtrack "O Brother Where Art Thou."

"Anchored in Love" should be considered in that context. It lovingly showcases the heritage and musical times of June Carter Cash, beginning with renditions of Carter Family classics like "Wildwood Flower"--a stunning performance by Loretta Lynn, as well as "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", recorded by Ralph Stanley, and a flat out beautiful reading of "Keep On The Sunny Side" by Brad Paisley (boy, I didn't know his range before this). Got your attention so far? How about Elvis Costello nailing down "Ring of Fire" and the beautiful and spiritual "Song To John", recorded by Emmy Lou Harris? There are also soulful tracks by Billy Joe Shaver, Sheryl Crow with Nelson ("If I Were A Carpenter"), and Billy Bob Thorton and the Peasall Sisters. Naturally, both Carlene Carter and Roseanne Cash are on hand for some beautiful music moments. I can't imagine this album not earning a Grammy next year. Still, I hope more people find out about it and tell others. Millions of others.



July 07, 2007


Jazz Vocalist Transforms A Diverse Repertoire


Jazz vocalist Sophie Millman reckons her sophomore album reflects "all of the turbulence, transformations and drama" in her life. And there's been plenty: The 24-year-old, widely tipped locally as the next major jazz artist to emerge from Canada, was born in Ufa, Russia—on the slopes of the Ural Mountains—but her family immigrated to Haifa, Israel, when she was 7. At 16, Millman was uprooted again when the family moved to Canada. Toronto-based Linus Entertainment released Millman's self-titled debut in Canada in 2004. Since then, she has balanced a music career's demands with studying at university for a commerce degree, which she will finish in June 2008. Millman managed to fit in headlining shows throughout North America, Mexico, Japan and Europe following her debut's release.

"It's been tough", she says. "I was learning my craft under incredible pressure. Meanwhile, I wrote essays on buses, cars and planes." Jazz CJRT Toronto music director/OM Brad Barker notes that Millman's approach is "less blues-based" than that of many other jazz singers, citing "the Eastern European flair she brings to her music." The June 19 Canadian release of her new album, "Make Someone Happy", on Linus/Universal Music precedes an Aug. 28 U.S. release through Koch. In Japan, JVC released the album June 16. New York-based Koch Records VP of jazz/adult music Chuck Mitchell calls Millman "a sensationally beautiful woman with poise and sophistication beyond her years [who] selects repertoire that is interesting and diverse." Mitchell says Koch will service the album to "core [U.S.] jazz and selected NPR stations" during July. According to Nielsen SoundScan, Millman's debut has sold 18,400 units in Canada and 11,000 in the United States. Linus president George Kulawick says Japanese sales on JVC total 30,000 units. Millman handles her own management with partner Casey Chisick and Kulawick, and is booked by S.L. Feldman & Associates. A June 10-city Canadian tour precedes U.S. shows Aug. 20-28. Three years after the debut, "I was itching to make another record", Millman says. "Make Someone Happy," produced by Toronto-based Steve MacKinnon, continues its predecessor's all-covers approach, placing standards like the title track alongside "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" from "Fiddler on the Roof" and Canadian pop-rock act The Guess Who's 1969 hit "Undun."

"The last line in 'Undun' is, 'Too many lives to lead and not enough time'", Millman says. "That's all about me."

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